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Voting for the Loser….Again

14-Nov-06 12:38 am EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

Ottawa’s municipal election was like the half dozen or so I’ve participated in thus far in my life – a case of voting for the loser.  It’s a frustration all of us face; and the primary reason many don’t bother with the routine of almost inevitable disappointment.  Maybe that’s why civic elections in Canada are so oft sparsely attended; a turnout of 30% is considered successful, much above 40% a phenomenon or perhaps even historic.  Yet it sure didn’t feel much different for me this time….despite all the "hullaballoo" over what was supposed to be "a photo finish".

Just a week or so ago, it was very-much a 3-way race between the incumbent Mayor, Bob Chiarelli – a center to right-of-center career politician; Alex Munter, a youthful, homosexual, former city councillor who’s policy platform is pretty much left-of-centre; and, finally, the right-of-center candidate named Larry O’Brien, a self-made businessman who offered a platform scant on detail, but who benefitted greatly from a kind of "anybody but Mutner" element to the election campaign.

It would be O’Brien who’d prevail to become Ottawa’s 60th mayor, with 50% of the vote.  Munter would follow with 35%, and Chiarelli ended up a distant 3rd with less than 15%.

The primary issues facing the electorate created a very piqued campaign at the outset; hence the prophecized "photo-finish":

  • Expansion of the O-Train (Light Rail Transit or LRT)
  • Taxes – they’ve been consistently going up every year I’ve lived in Ottawa 3-4% without relief, and
  • Crime, although Ottawa has got to be one of the most over-policed cities in the country.

For me, city services are important – particularly in the area of health care.  I’m a pretty healthy guy too, although I have a liver problem that needs a certain amount of attention and support from city services.  O’Brien’s promise to hold taxes at 0% sounded great (don’t need my rent to go up any more, although it’s likely it would regardless of who wins the election for mayor), but some pundits and O’Briens opponents argued that it was a goal only attainable at the expense of city services.  And, I think it likely his electino will mean that pressure (at the very least) will be placed on those services, even though throughout his camptaign the message was patently the opposite.  Most of all, it was the detail missing from his statements about keeping Ottawa’s government fiscally responsible which led me to think a McGuinty (Premier, Ontario) style flip-flop might be in store once the honeymoon with the electorate is over.

Munter might have a degree of integrity; both historically and in his platform, with due detail about approach and means.  (Well, for a politician.)  However, there were parts of his platform that seemed, well, "flaky".  One proposal involved a program to encourage more leaisure time for kids, by reducing fees at city pools & athletic facilities.  Speaking to the issue of "overweight" children and using city programs to handle or address the problem had me heafing the familiar sound of granola crunching instead of giving much through to such ideas.  In the end, I worried Munter’s social conscience would drive taxes even higher.  And I felt O’Brien was right on in observing taxes were out of control in this town.

Add to this Munter’s hands-on solution to micromanagement of the O-Ttrain project and I was donwright skeptical he’d make a sound mayor  Without having much background info on the ocntract (he couldn’t – it was being kept a secret much to the anger of the electorate), Munter was all about chaning everything from the route lines would follow down to whether the LRT would be "green" enough – using diesel or electricity for power, etc.

Chiarelli helped install some of the programs I use and, while his advocacy of secrecy around the O-Train contract was an irritant to be sure, I simply felt he was the least of the 3 evils.

And yet he didn’t win!

 MAYOR Total %
Number of Polls/Nombre de bureaux de scrutin 530  
Polls Reporting/Bureaux de scrutin rapportés 530 100.0%
Total Votes/Total des votes 300039  
Piotr ANWEILER 762 0.25%
Bob CHIARELLI 46697 15.56%
Robert LARTER 667 0.22%
Alex MUNTER 108752 36.25%
Larry O’BRIEN 141262 47.08%
Barkley POLLOCK 432 0.14%
Jane SCHARF 1467 0.49%

And then there was the contest for city councillor in my ward (Ward #12).  And again, my selected candidate dind’t win – Bruce McConville went down to defeat by incumbent Georges Bédard.  However, there was the consolation of it being an exteremely tight race (see results in Figure 2, below).

Bédard might have had a more difficult time with re-election this evening because of his length of time in office.  He’s been there a very long time (not sure just how long) – and the last time I called him about a parking ticket I’d received mistakenly, he wasn’t very helpful.  He referred me back to the police department pretty promptly, without giving me much attention.  At that, he rebuffed my inquiry with a form letter!  Didn’t those go out with typewriters?

It seems, at the very least, he’s not being very responsive to his electorate here in Ottawa-Vanier.  Maybe next time, I’ll have a run at his seat to help remind him to whom he’s ultimately responsible.  (On the other hand, maybe I should stick to developing software lest I help his campaign inadvertently.)

 Councillor – Ward 12 Total %
Number of Polls/Nombre de bureaux de scrutin 38  
Polls Reporting/Bureaux de scrutin rapportés 38 100.0%
Total Votes/Total des votes 12167  
Georges BÉDARD 5685 46.72%
Krista DRISCOLL 1000 8.22%
Bruce McCONVILLE 5482 45.06%

 In the days ahead, we’ll be hearing more on talk radio stations, like my favourite – CFRA.  It’s a right-wing mouthpieces, but entertaining and there were obviously some interesting, high-points with this civic eletion.  Can’t remember when the last time was that happened…no matter which city I lived in. 

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Categories: News and politics
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Terry Glavin

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