The Carlington Summit

Extra chairs were added for the over 100 people that turned out for the only structured opportunity to meet candidates for Councillor for River Ward (includes Carlington) and Mayor for the new City of Ottawa, on 18 October. The session was held at the Hunt Club Community Centre on Paul Anka Drive, difficult to get to from Carlington unless you have a car. Nonetheless, Carlington voters were well represented and several were able to ask questions.

The evening was arranged by community associations local to the Centre, and “The News”, and was chaired by News President Michael Wollock.

The two candidates for City Councillor in River Ward are newcomer David Hagerman and incumbent Wendy Stewart. Mayoral candidates in attendance were Claudette Cain, Bob Chiarelli, James A. Hall, Georges Saadé, Paula Nemchin and John C. Turmel.

Paula Nemchin is campaigning solely on the issue of her opposition to bilingualism in the new city, and admitted to having little knowledge about most other issues. James Hall identified himself as “the Invisible Candidate” and spent half the meeting mingling in the audience and sharing his cynicism. Georges Saadé arrived late at the meeting and engaged in a vocal debate with moderator Michael Wollock about his participation, having not pre-registered. Perennial candidate John Turmel augmented the comedy with his usual claim that the world would be a better place if charging interest on loaned money was made illegal.

This left candidates Cain, Chiarelli, Hagerman and Stewart as the only credible people to answer questions from the audience, and most were directed to these four.

Carlington's own Rose Wakeham, President of the Bellevue Manor Tenants' Association asked about the candidates' views on child poverty. David Hagerman stated that he is committed to universal child-care and affordable housing, and admitted to having left-of-centre views. Wendy Stewart noted that during her six years on Regional Council that social services funding by the Region had been increased with her support. She emphasized though that fiscal responsibility is critical to sustainable social infrastructure.

Claudette Cain said that the key to increased social services is reduced duplication and waste. James Hall said that he would be surprised if child poverty could be reduced, and expects that it will grow. John Turmel answered that the main issue was employment. Bob Chiarelli listed accomplishments of Regional Council while under his Chairmanship.

Wendy Croome, Board Member at Carlington Community and Health Services, asked about Social Housing, and what we can expect from a new City Hall with increased responsibilities. Responses were mostly negative: Bob Chiarelli blamed the Province and believes that there is no solution at the Municipal level. Claudette Cain said that all levels of government need to involve themselves in the issue. Wendy Stewart stated her goal and commitment to maintain the current stock of 18000 units, and Bob Chiarelli again referred to the accomplishments of the current Regional Council.