Email interview for Ottawa Election Candidates 2010


The following set of questions will be emailed today to all the candidates who list an email – the rest can find it here, should they be interested.

If at least 10-15 of the candidates do respond, I will set up a separate blog at which I will post all the responses I receive (by Mayor/Ward#).

This election is likely to see many changes in the municipal political scene – and so it should be. Still, it can be confusing for the ‘regular voter’ to know who’s who and what their defining values are.

In order to help the voters identify which candidate stands for what, I have put together a few questions which I would appreciate if you would answer. In order to identify everyone’s stand on some of the issues which are important to the Ottawa taxpayers at this time, some of the questions are provocative, pointed and otherwise biased in order to highlight each candidate’s uniqueness.

If you would like to answer any or all of my questions (feel free to pick and choose), I will post each reply on a dedicated blog. It might not get a lot of traffic – but, then again, it might take off. All I ask is that the questions be answered by the candidate and not their political staff and that they be honest, direct and heartfelt.

(If some of the questions make you mad – please, say so: they are meant to! Which questions make you mad just may help voters identify with your core values! If none of the questions get you ‘hot under the collar’, then I have failed and I apologize.)

Part 1: tell us about yourself

1.1

Why did you decide to run for public office now – as opposed to another time?

1.2

Why did you decide to run for the Municipal level of government, as opposed to the Provincial or Federal?

1.3

What makes you the best candidate for this job?

1.4

What separates you from all the other candidates?

1.5

Whom do you admire and why?

Part 2: decision making

Each of the following questions will present you with 2 options: sometimes, these may be congruent, sometimes not. It does not matter. This section is meant to highlight, if elected, how much relative relevance you would give these considerations in YOUR decision making.

Dividing ten points between the two choices in each question, please indicate how many you would give to each of the two options presented (ensuring the sum adds up to 10).

Example: When considering a snack, how would you rate ‘healthy’ vs ‘convenient’?

Healthy __6___

Convenient __4___

(A snack can be both healthy and convenient – this just tells us, the voters, which quality you would consider more, and by how much.)

Please, feel free to comment as well.

2.1

To whom is the primary responsibility of the City Council?

City employees _______

Taxpayers _______

2.2

When introducing new initiatives (or evaluating existing ones), what should be the relative importance of these to each other?

‘Environmental good’ _____

Taxpayer burden _____

2.3

When introducing policies intended to change the behaviour of the citizens of Ottawa, how would you balance the following?

Advice of experts _____

Voter feedback _____

2.4

When motivating citizens to use public transit, how would you balance these two approaches?

Making it easier, more convenient and especially safer to use public transit _____

Introducing penalties/fees/traffic tie-ups to discourage the use of private vehicles _____

2.5

Who is responsible for the welfare of children?

Parents _____

Public officials (including all variety of school programs) _____

2.6

What is the relative importance of these?

Individual (including property) rights _____

‘Public good’ _____

2.7

What should be the relative focus of any government?

Providing services to citizens _____

Enabling citizens to provide for themselves _____

2.8

When implementing a policy that may not be popular, which is preferable?

Legislating behaviour _____

Permitting those citizens who wish to ‘opt in’ to do so, with no penalty to the rest _____

2.9

What is a better way to help people with ‘drug problems’?

Needle exchange/safe injection site programmes _____

0 tolerance of illegal drug users (including marijuana) _____

(I specify drug ‘users’, as opposed to ‘dealers’)

2.10

In policing, what is the relative importance of:

‘Public Good’ initiatives – such as ‘driver sobriety spot checks’ by police _____

Respecting the constitutional rights of citizens (random police checks illegal) _____

2.11

Who is entitled to decide the fate of trees?

The property owner (whose house may be getting damaged by the tree) _____

The community (as represented by City Officials) _____

2.12

Which is more harmful to the environment?

Raw Sewage _____

Carbon Dioxide _____

2.13

If ‘security’ and ‘freedom’ are in conflict, which should take precedence?

Security _____

Freedom _____

2.14

If a city official (such as a police officer or a by-law officer) is attempting to carry out an illegal order or to enforce an illegal law/by-law (one which contravenes the Canadian Constitution), what should be the reaction of the citizen?

Shut up and obey, like a good little slave _____

Place the city official under citizen’s arrest _____

2.15

Where do rights originate from (and thus reside with)?

Individual _____

Society _____

Part 3: Short and to the point

Please answer the following questions in 10 words or less.

3.1

What is the main purpose of government?

3.2

What is the main purpose of fines?

3.3

What is the proper role of by-laws?

3.4

Currently, the average salary (and benefits) of the City of Ottawa employee is roughly double the average salary (and benefits) of private sector employee (this average includes the high salaries of CEO’s and other executives – as shown in multiple studies). Under what conditions is this justifiable?

3.5

In many City of Ottawa departments, the workers and managers are members of the same labour union. Is this proper?

3.6

Should the City of Ottawa have departments which duplicate the services (and often undermine the policies) of Provincial and/or Federal departments?

3.7

Many businesses in Ottawa claim the amount of ‘red tape’ they have to go through simply to exist is excessive. Is this a problem?

3.8

Under what conditions is it justifiable for a government to financially subsidize one business, but not another?

3.9

Is ‘reverse discrimination’ also a form of discrimination?

3.10

Under what conditions should governments be permitted to fund non-core, non-essential programmes/services?

3.11

Does accommodating sensitivities of ANY/ALL religious groups by the City of Ottawa a breech the separation of ‘government’ and ‘religion’?

3.12

Should elected city officials be subjected to a specific term limit? If so, how long?

3.13

Similarly, should city employees (perhaps with the exception of front-line police officers, firefighters and paramedics) face a similar cap of a maximum number of years in the civil service (say, 15 or so)? (This would help bridge the public/private sector gulf and enrich both, as well as slow the destructive trend of emerging ‘privileged class’ of civil servants we are seeing in our society.)

3.14

Why should the City of Ottawa permit the operation of businesses (such as clubs) which ban a citizen from becoming a member based on their gender (or which set aside hours of operation for members of a specific religion)?

3.15

Should the City of Ottawa tolerate the practice of gender discrimination in any form, including ‘gender segregation’ on City property? (In privacy/modesty situation, the existing measures such as ‘family changing rooms’ and ‘family rest-rooms’ are a perfect accommodation to all without implementing gender apartheid.)

3.16

Should City of Ottawa financially support public events (including sports competitions) which practice gender apartheid? Should it tolerate such intolerance in City owned facilities?

3.17

It is difficult for most non-communications specialists to be ‘perfectly bilingual’: still, it is even more difficult to be ‘perfectly trilingual’. As such, the current City of Ottawa language policy unfairly prevents non-linguist allophones, mostly from immigrant backgrounds (such as myself) from even seeking employment with The City. If elected, will you work towards a more inclusive, tolerant workplace which only requires ‘functional bilingualism’, and only in ‘front-line positions’ for personnel which is directly serving the public?

Part 4 – deeper questions

Please, answer the following questions.

4.1

The classical role of government is defined as protecting territorial integrity (not applicable to a municipal government), protecting the security of person and property of its citizens and providing an impartial and objective judiciary. This is a much narrower role than what the modern governments tend to play. Most citizens would likely agree that the role of municipal government also includes supplying clean water, proper sewage treatment/waste (garbage) disposal and road infrastructure.

Should a municipal government to provide any service other than listed above? (Please list.)

Why/why not?

4.2

This will be difficult to put in practice, but…

Do you support, in principle, the assertion that since civil servants are paid from the salaries of ‘regular citizens’, the average civil service salary should not be higher than the average salary in the private sector?

If elected, would you work towards implementing this principle into practice?

4.3

Multiple studies over decades have established that people who regularly use public transit suffer from many more infectious illnesses than people who don’t. If elected, what measures will you pursue to minimize this public health hazard?

4.4

Public transit is used by downtown commuters more than any other group. Yet, most of the people who work downtown are civil servants – whose salary is, on average, already roughly double that of people working in private industry. As such, concentrating on providing increased public transit service to downtown is an additional subsidy to already overpaid civil servants. When the property taxes are rising to unprecedented high levels, forcing people from their homes, how can such a blatant subsidy to already overpaid bureaucrats be justified?

4.5

Cities which have light rail public transit are increasingly converting their systems to uses buses. Since the accommodation to the unions states that no rail system which the City of Ottawa might implement would reduce the number of drivers/commuters had been made, there will not be any cost savings on the salary of operators if a rail-based transit system is brought in. Yet, the construction of rail-based transit systems is much higher than of bus-based systems while at the same time it lacks the flexibility inherent to a bus-based transit system. If there is a justification for a publicly run transit system (which is far from established), will you oppose all the hair-brained schemes involving rail-based system in favour of a reasonable, bus-based system?