Ottawa Votes!

Although not big news outside of Ottawa, the municipal election this year is making daily headlines in the local papers. I’m not sure if this is a regular thing, as I’ve only been here for one previous, but based on my experience in Calgary I’d guess it isn’t. I’ve taken a collection of photos of the numerous election signs all over Ottawa, which seem to be even more extensive then for the last federal election.

To summarize, there are three main candidates running for mayor: the incumbent, Bob Chiarelli; former Kanata councillor Alex Munter; and tech millionaire Larry O’Brien. Each has a wildly different view of how the city should be run. Chiarelli wants to continue business as it has been, which is not a bad thing at all. Munter and O’Brien, predictably, want change — but different kinds of change. Alex Munter wants to increase spending while Larry O’Brien wants to see the city “run like a business,” citing his experience in running a corporation.

There are several major issues this election, but for various reasons, it all seems to have coalesced into an argument over light rail transit. Currently, Ottawa has a diesel-powered LRT, the O-Train, which was set up as a pilot project several years ago. The current council approved its replacement with a full-fledged electric system, but the election has complicated this plan. In an announcement that shocked many, Canada’s President of the Treasury Board, a local Minister of Parliament named John Baird, decided to withdraw funding for the project until after the election. This was a gift for Munter and O’Brien, both of whom want to change or even cancel the LRT project. The O-Train’s future is now in question, albeit not without consequences: changes to the current plan incur a large financial penalty.

The election date is November 13, though pre-voting has already started. Current polls are conflicting, but one thing is clear: the race is close. Check back next week when fellow Ottawa contributor Ken Gildner weighs in with more on the future of the O-Train.

This entry was written by Nick Wellington , posted on Friday November 03 2006at 01:11 am , filed under Canada, Politics, Society and Culture, Transportation and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

4 Responses to “Ottawa Votes!”

  • Ken Gildner says:

    I like that first shot of the election signs, Nick. It symbolizes the ‘roadshow’ atmosphere of this campaign!

  • OttawaLady says:

    Well, you can’t assert as fact that cancelling the LRT contract will result in a a large financial penalty, since the contract has been kept secret and no one knows for sure what the truth is. Only Chiarelli is privy to it and he’s hiding it.

    Regarding Munter, he isn’t talking about increasing spending, he actually wants to stop any tax increase over the rate of inflation and introduce some financial accountability into how city staff spend tax dollars.

    Nice shot of Bronson Ave. campaign signs BTW! Was that you who put them back up again, for the photograph? They keep “falling” over….

  • I live near that first shot and I think it’s a great photo. Can I use it on my blog for my posts on the election? I’ll link back.

    Also, just a note about Alex — he doesn’t want to increase spending. He actually wants to reduce spending on Chiarelli’s original LRT plan and keep taxes below the rate of inflation.

  • Owen Rose says:

    Nick, I’m waiting for your follow-up article about the Ottawa election results and their impact.