I have always considered my integrity and reputation to be precious. I do my best to live honestly, speak only the truth and own up to my errors and shortcomings. In politics, of course, one is under constant scrutiny. You are fair game for criticism on your record. That means the facts around decisions you have taken, the way you have operated and the example you have set. So it should be. I accept that not everyone will agree with all my actions and positions, but am game to explain and defend them. And admit errors.
What I have never accepted, and never will is falsehood, innuendo, bullying behaviour and especially slander. When I am slandered I will call it that, and call out the perpetrator. Shawn Menard has now on multiple occasions slandered me in public. More than a dozen people have reported statements made about me on their doorsteps, including a mother and her 12-year old son in my neighbourhood. But until now this was always “hearsay” that I did not witness.
Now, however, it is in writing on Facebook. It is also being done by proxy through the blog of someone apparently working on the Menard campaign whose blog neglects to mention this fact.
The following is the verbatim post of Shawn Menard on my Facebook page
“People continue to ask me how I am different from the Incumbent Ward Councillor of Capital Ward. Here is a summary: If you look at his voting record, it is atrocious on the environment and on progressive issues. David has voted for and ushered in higher transit fares every single year, despite declining ridership. He has voted for plastics to go in the green bin, and against further staffing of energy evolution. David has acquiesced on nearly every major development that required push back. He has effectively allowed the Immaculata field to be privatized by not doing proper background work when it was required on the site plan agreement (something any ‘experienced’ councillor should have known right away). David has cancelled the Ward Council that used to exist in Capital Ward, to the detriment of our residents and community voice. Not to mention taking $1000 perks from OSEG developers. It is shameful to support this type of record. Time to support a candidate who won’t back down, build colaitions and will speak truth to power when it is needed. For more reading: https://stepsfromthecanal.wordpress.com/…/capital-ward…/ https://ottawacitizen.com/…/reevely-councillors-can…
To be clear, not everything Shawn Menard has said in this post and on doorsteps is false or slanderous. The parts that are a mere critique merit a factual response. The statements that are allegation or spin, will be identified as such and refuted by facts and by my own interpretation. But where the statement is false, that is what I will name it.
“Atrocious record on environment”
SPIN – Decide for yourself
The Ottawa River Action Plan: Combined sewage storage tunnel is half-completed protecting our precious Ottawa River from stormwater overflow of untreated sewage; Rain Gardens to beautify, calm traffic and detain storm water (check out Sunnyside Ave).
Energy Evolution — Ottawa’s Renewable Energy Transition Strategy. Conceived of, lobbied for and saw through to completion Phase One. More than 15 individual projects are now funded and underway.
Urban Forest Management Plan — a citywide plan to protect/increase our urban trees, praised by all major environment and greenspace groups. Now we have to fully fund it, and complete the 25-plus individual action items.
Better contract for Household Organics (green bin) so as to increase participation and convenience by including pet waste and use of plastic bags as first step toward compostable-only bags, once standardized and readily-available
Light Rail for Ottawa using low-carbon electricity!
- Confederation Line (Phase One) light rail approved, funded and in service in early 2019. Important stations at Lees and Hurdman in Capital Ward.
- Phase Two approved and funded, including substantial Trillium Line service expansion and frequency upgrades in Capital Ward.
Bike lanes, bike tracks, footbridges — they are popping up everywhere you look. More to come, already approved. In my two terms, with me serving as a highly visible advocate Ottawa has moved light years ahead in building dedicated cycling infrastructure.
All city buildings now aim for LEED Gold (my motion). More than a dozen have been achieved. Even the Second Avenue parking garage is certified as a Green Garage (go figure!) and includes electric car charging and car sharing stalls, as well as substantial bicycle parking, much of it covered.
Ottawa became the first city to successfully issue Green Bonds, something I had prompted at committee.
Ottawa has adopted the Paris Agreement targets, joined the Compact of Mayors, and now has a short-term target as part of participation in Carbon613 — a core member.
“voted for and ushered in higher transit fares every single year, despite declining ridership”
TRUE, but SPIN
I have supported the OC Transpo budget each year. Often after extensive questions and debate. It is a global budget that must keep the fleet on the road and the drivers paid. If somebody wants to freeze or cut fares, I would ask them where exactly that shortfall will come from. What other budget items will they vote to eliminate. Ask for specifics. Precisely what road will they vote against building, and how will they get the support of 12 other councillors?
“Acquiesced on nearly every major development that required push back”
On only two occasions have I voted for a significant development project that was not fundamentally sound. See my explanations for my 99 Fifth Avenue and Southminster United Church votes above.
“Voted for plastics to go into green bins”
FALSE and SPIN
See the FAQ section below, and also the following from my April 9, 2018 newsletter:
On green bins and plastics
Fewer than 50% of Ottawa households participate in the green bin program, a statistic I find shocking. There are both legitimate reasons and excuses: Some homes have no storage space for a green bin, some people have difficulty getting a heavy bin to the curb, and many apartments and condominiums are not equipped to deal with organic waste. Despite a multi-year campaign, fewer than 5% of multi-unit residential buildings participate in the program.
The most common complaint is that dealing with kitchen scraps, fat and bones is smelly and messy. Waste is messy whether it’s in the green bin or garbage, but if the “yuck factor” is really what’s preventing another 30% of residents from participating, allowing the use of plastic bags is a worthwhile compromise.
That’s why I voted to allow plastic bags as containers in green bins starting in mid-2019. Many people wrote and called to praise this change. Others chastised me for encouraging the use of plastic bags, when we should be discouraging or even banning them. But I think it’s worth taking an important win when we can, instead of trying to solve all environmental problems in one fell swoop.
Crucially, the City is not promoting the use of plastic bags. A public education campaign will highlight other options, including newspapers, paper shopping bags, cereal boxes, sugar bags, and bags made specifically for the beige, kitchen-sized bin. We expect that, instead of creating additional plastic waste, people will re-use existing plastic bags that would otherwise go to landfill, along with all that organic waste.
With the expanded service, Orgaworld will invest $3.9 million to be able to effectively screen out plastics — and process dog waste, the other big change — with technology already used in many Canadian municipalities. This will divert more organic waste from landfill and transform it into beneficial products like compost and fertilizers. It will reduce CO2 and methane emissions, and extend the life of the Trail Road landfill.
Still, allowing plastic bags in green bins won’t be enough to achieve provincial waste diversion targets. That’s why City of Ottawa staff are studying and seeking feedback on options to increase diversion, such as garbage bag limits, fees, or clear bags to ensure no recyclables end up in the garbage. They will present a plan in 2019. Mandating compostable bags for groceries and organic waste is an option to explore as a separate, longer-term project.
As for the larger issue of single-use plastic items like food and drink containers, the City will explore solutions, focusing on ones where we can expect a high level of public participation. As we have learned from the green bin, if half the population doesn’t buy in, it may not be the most effective approach.
One last point to add to this article: Won’t it be great to have all that dog poop that is currently being illegally placed in overflowing city park receptacles now going into the green bin. It is organic waste! The bags will be shredded and removed.
“Voted against more staff for the Energy Evolution strategy”
Energy Evolution is the Renewable Energy Transition Strategy that I conceived, placed on the Term of Council Priority agenda, found staff to develop, assembled over 100 stakeholders from all sectors to help develop, and ultimately brought forward to Council for adoption. The 2018 budget for Energy Evolution was very slim, given how late in the year this budget “ask” came. That modest amount was destined to be allocated entirely to community pilot projects that could start now and achieve some tangible results and offer insight into potential for scaling up. The city had sufficient staff to reassign to manage these projects and to apply for federal and provincial funding. Furthermore, senior managers made a commitment to finding sufficient staffing in the future. So, when a surprise motion was tabled to cut in half the money to go to projects (effectively scuttling 5-7 projects submitted by our community partners) and to allocate it instead to a new staff person, with an undefined task, which would take 4-6 months to hire anyway, I firmly rejected that “raid” on the community projects budget and voted against it. Fast forward to the present: with reassigned staff, all funding applications were submitted on time, and substantial funding was awarded to the city; the projects went ahead as intended, and new ones have just been awarded with the additional funds; a new, permanent manager for Energy Evolution and climate protection programs will soon be hired using existing resources transferred from unused “FTEs”.
“effectively allowed the Immaculata field to be privatized”
There is nothing in the 1993 Site Plan Agreement that would have prevented the Ottawa Catholic School Board from moving forward with this field redvelopment and long-term lease agreement with Footy 7s. All that could be curtailed were the hours of operation (I worked to have reduced hours imposed upon them, though this is now being appealed to the Local Planning Tribunal). They will be held to the city’s lighting and noise bylaws.
“cancelled the Ward Council that used to exist in Capital Ward”
The idea of a Ward Council is actually something vague that has come and gone over previous decades. It consists of inviting the community association presidents to get together and discuss common issues. It had long been abandoned when I was elected. I reconvened it when elected in 2010. We managed to all get together 1-2 times per year, notably to discuss the Budget and important park improvements to be funded by Cash-in-lieu of Parkland money. Over time, it proved harder and harder to get everyone together. Interest waned. While the Ward Council was never “cancelled” it simply stopped meeting. Not one single CA president voiced concern about this, or ever asked for such a meeting to be held. It seemed to me that direct access to the president, their CAs, and my regular attendance at their meetings was sufficient. Should there be a strong desire to reconvene the Ward Council, I would be pleased to try and bring everyone together once again. I’ll book the big table at Stella Luna once again, and pay for the gelatto once more.
“Taking $1000 perks from OSEG developers”
On the doorstep, this figure has ranged as high as $2000, according to several sources. But the dollar amount is not actually the point.
As I explain transparently in the article referenced (I encourage everyone to read it), I attend very few functions on “free tickets” and only when:
- approved by the Integrity Commissioner;
- serving a function necessary or of value to the City of Ottawa;
- the ticket provider is not a registered lobbyist or will not be doing business with me or the city, and
- I will be reporting my actions on the Registry.
I attended the Grey Cup as host councillor to a national festival who had spent months deeply involved in preparations and who needed to see the stadium in its full 40,000 seat build-out mode for the first time ever. I did not accept other gratuities. The tickets were NOT from OSEG or developers, but rather the CFL commissioner. For me to refuse to attend would have been short-sighted, and negligent. How else to witness in person whether Lansdowne and the special security and transportation measures were up to the job. I am pleased to say, all passed with flying colours, but some lessons were learned about access and egress.
Should it matter, I am not even a big football fan.
Paraphrasing Menard at the All Candidate Debate:
“David votes with the mayor, and not the progressive councillors”
I vote with the mayor when I agree with the mayor, and do not when I disagree. Few votes are black and white. Sometimes we vote yes or no for quite different reasons than it may outwardly appear. On major issues, I take the time to communicate why I voted how I did — see my 8 years’ worth of councillors columns in the community papers, and Capital Ward News commentaries. And what is this term “progressive councillors” anyway? Who gets to make up that category? We are 23 councillors representing distinct wards. On every issue, we vote as individuals. Sometimes the mayor tries to “whip” the vote, sometimes he does not. I remain an independent thinker and voter, as Mayor Watson will attest, and I believe he has come to respect that. I will listen to his case or to the case of other councillors, just as I ask them to listen to mine. It is called Bridge Building. Nobody gets ahead over the long term as a councillor by fighting.