Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Post-election Random Thoughts

We really need to see them in action before we can determine how far Ottawa's new council swings to the right. We have a new mayor who's been there before and 10 new councillors -- some replacing tired oldies who saw the light and decided to retire rather than go down to defeat, others defeating tired oldies who needed to be booted out.
Ottawans were clearly fed up with the chardonnay socialist elitists who thought they knew what was best for the rest of us. It's unlikely the new, young, forward-thinking councillors will continue the "nannyism" which so characterized council since amalgamation some 10 years ago. New blood brings new ideas and new attitudes toward issues such as development. What a refreshing thought ! But what will the SUN's Susan Sherring do now that she doesn't have Mayor Larry to kick around ? And her best bud, Rideau-Vanier 's Georges Bedard got himself whupped by a 25-year-old ! Quel dommage ! Councillor Diane Holmes woke up on Tuesday to find herself in a lonely position indeed. Most of the lefties are gone -- Doucet, Cullen, Legendre, Feltmate, Bedard. Maybe newbie David Chernushenko will step up -- but he looks like a one-trick pony with opposition to the Lansdowne redevelopment plan his main priority.
Judging from what's already been written about the newcomers, taxes, transit, moving Lansdowne forward and economic development are their priorities. With the exception of Peter Clark, new councillor in Rideau -Rockcliffe (where "elect me because I'm a Francophone" is a slogan which no longer resonates with voters), the newbies by and large are a lot younger than those they replaced. Some of them are political activists, having previously worked with mayor-elect Jim Watson. The aforementioned Mr. Clark is a former mayor of Cumberland and former Regional Chair. He brings a wealth of knowledge to council; he probably understands the budgetting process better than anyone sitting around the council table; and he has a reputation for carefully husbanding taxpayers' dollars.
The budget will be the first order of business facing the new council following the December 1 swearing-in. Hopefully this group will put an end to the farce of so-called "public consultations" at which residential property owners ' legitimate concerns about escalating taxes were given short shrift by councillors who favored presentations from well-rehearsed CUPE minions and their special interest compatriots.
We will all have to exercise a little patience as the new council settles in. Yes, there's a learning curve, but it shouldn't take this group long to get past that. What they need to remember is that they were elected to bring some order to the chaos that's been city council since amalgamation. People are tired of the infighting, the inability to make decisions and stick to them, and the tax and spend mentality which permeated city hall. While Citizen Ellie is not a big Jim Watson fan, she's willing to give him the benefit of the doubt -- he certainly knows how to schmooze and if he can use this talent to forge a council where concensus rather than confrontation characterizes debate and decision-making, he'll have done a good job. He and the new council have four years to show ratepayers what they're made of.
Where Have I Been ?
In August, Citizen Ellie took off on a road trip to Prince Edward Island which included stops in Quebec City and Fredericton, NB.
The highlight of the Quebec City stop was attending the Tattoo which is part of Quebec's Military Band Festival -- a highlight of their summer tourist season.
Sitting in the Pepsi Colisee, watching 800 bandsmen and women march in and then play "O Canada" brought a tear to the eye. Those of us who've experienced the national anthem boo birds at "The Bob" in Gatineau or at the Bell Centre in Montreal had reason to be concerned. There were many tourists from other parts of Canada, the U-S, Europe etc. in the audience and it surely would be an embarrassment if our national anthem was bood. But the people of Quebec City have more class than the smart asses across the Ottawa River who think booing the national anthem gives them some sort of status. Quebec City folk attending the Tattoo (and there were many in the audience) rose and sang "O Canada" with gusto in French.
In Fredericton, we visited the Beaverbrook Gallery and saw "the Turner and the Freud" -- the two paintings which are at the core of the dispute between Lord Beaverbrook's heirs and the gallery.
Prince Edward Island is Citizen Ellie's paradise. When Ottawa becomes too pricey due to ever-increasing property taxes, that's where she'll go. Housing prices on the island are still reasonable and property taxes are still affordable.
Citizen Ellie returned to Ottawa mid-September. The municipal election campaigning was in full swing and she made a conscious decision to remain impartial and not post or endorse any candidate/s until it was all over.
Now she's back at the old stand, watching and waiting to see what develops. There will be some interruptions in The Pitchfork's upcoming schedule as she has to take some time out for knee replacement surgery.
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