The upcoming October 24, 2022, municipal elections in Ottawa, Canada, are a cautionary tale for cities across the world about the corruption, censorship, and intimidation that ensue when you allow climate activists to hijack the democratic process. Unfortunately, Ottawa’s election has been designed to elect candidates to mayor and council offices who are climate change warriors, or at least people too frightened of political correctness to question Ottawa’s ludicrous $57.4 billion climate and energy plans.
ICSC-Canada certainly questions it, of course, and in January, we released a detailed report about the city’s costly, infeasible and dangerous plans. When the city never replied, we sent an open letter to Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and the entire city council in July, calling their attention to the report. Now, over two and a half months later, none of them, including climate activist city councilor Catherine McKenney, currently leading in the race for mayor, have responded to either the report or the open letter.
In the first public mayor candidates debate on August 16, I brought up the fact that no one on the council had responded, also explaining how Ottawa was following Texas’ example, where its over-reliance on wind power led to 700 deaths in the state in the February 2021 winter storm.
“The key commitments for energy [in Ottawa’s climate plans] really are district energy, solar energy, and looking at ways of reducing greenhouse gases. I don’t know that wind power takes precedence in it. But I’d be happy to read your report, and if you prove me wrong, I will be happy to have that conversation with you.”
In the September 7th public Q&A following public debate #3, a woman addressed McKenney’s statement about the supposed focus of Ottawa’s climate plans. The woman said:
“That is deceptive and wrong. District energy doesn’t address how power is generated. Ottawa’s plans for wind power are about three times as much as solar. My question is:
“Did you vote for a fifty-seven-billion-dollar plan without knowing what was in it?”
McKenney ignored the question, instead boasting about how wonderful the plan was.
So, never hearing back from McKenney, I said to them (McKenney insists on being addressed as “them/they/their”), following the October 17 public debate, as they dashed from the hall:
“Excuse me, Catherine.”
McKenney must have seen me waiting to speak with them, and so they virtually ran away, calling out to me over their shoulder:
So, I asked in a loud voice that they could not help but hear:
“Have you had a chance to read our report?”
McKenney did not reply and quickly disappeared behind a black curtain backing the stage. So much for their commitment to open consultation and transparency.
In contrast, all the other candidates at the October 17 event stayed for at least half an hour after the debate, speaking with voters, including me, in a respectful and friendly fashion.
Only the Tip of the Iceberg of Ottawa Election Corruption
But this lack of accountability is only a small sample of Ottawa’s election corruption, which largely originates from the fact that the first four debates between mayoral candidates were organized and run by climate activists. Not surprisingly, all four debates were focused on “climate justice,” even though a recent poll showed that 5.6% of Ottawa voters put climate change top of their priorities for the city.
The debate organizers must have been shocked when, for the first three debates, fully half of the questions from the public during the Q&A periods were, in one way or another, critical of the city’s climate and energy plans. But, of course, mainstream media completely ignored this in their reporting of the debates.
The first two debates between candidates for mayor were at least broadcast, unedited, and thousands of people have viewed them. This allowed many people not present at these events to see exactly what transpired and hear the important questions from the public, many of whom knew more about climate and energy than the candidates did.
A particularly poignant question came from a Franco-Ontarian woman who expressed serious concern that Chinese companies use many thousands of children, some as young as four years old, to mine cobalt in the Congo to produce the required batteries for electric vehicles. What did candidates for office think about this? Only candidate Ade Olumide had a reasonable answer, namely that there was a need for a “balanced scorecard analysis” to properly evaluate the ethics of the supply chain for the city’s electric buses. Olumide explained that, after such an evaluation, it may very well be that some projects would have to be canceled because child labor was involved.
McKenney clearly did not know what to say. Their body language revealed that they were caught totally unaware of this issue.
Although mainstream media completely ignored the question and others that put the city’s plans in an unfavorable light, Ottawans at the meeting said that this woman’s question “dropped an atom bomb on the debate.” This was obviously because it revealed how little most of the candidates knew about the human rights implications of their policies. That alone made the inclusion of uncensored questions from the public invaluable to the democratic process. Without such freedom, events like this degenerate into politically correct “groupthink,” where important but inconvenient information is totally ignored or brushed aside.
Debate #3 was a different story, however. Perhaps working in concert with the climate activists organizing the debates, Rogers Community TV deleted two critical questions that put the City’s plans in a bad light before uploading the debate to the web. See here for the two questions.
The first question Rogers deleted was posed by Jay Nera, a People’s Party of Canada candidate in the last federal election. He concluded his question by asking:
“So, when essentially no one of magnitude is following us, why is Ottawa expected to pay billions and billions and billions of dollars in expenditures for statistically zero global effect?”
The candidates’ answers were naïve. Yes, they said, Ottawa would lead the world, and China would follow. Someone from the audience called loudly, “Not going to happen!” No wonder Rogers deleted the whole exchange.
The other question Rogers deleted was that of the woman who asked McKenney, “Did you vote for a fifty-seven-billion-dollar plan without knowing what was in it?”
According to one knowledgeable researcher with whom I spoke after the event, this is a violation of Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) standards.
Still More Censorship
However, even that censorship was not enough for the climate activist organizers of Ottawa’s mayoral candidate debates. For the 4th, and most important debate, the only one streamed live, no longer could the public directly question the candidates on camera during the meeting. Instead, the public was compelled to submit their questions in advance to the organizers, who then determined what questions would be allowed to be asked of candidates.
Furthermore, even if their questions were selected, the public was not allowed to pose their own questions to the candidates directly at a microphone set up for that purpose, as occurred in the first three debates. Instead, the questions were to be posed by Adrian Harewood, the CBC moderator of the debate, who was clearly biased in favor of climate alarmism. Indeed, during debate #4, Harwood told the audience, “All the climate scientists are saying that we are in peril right now.” This is, of course, nonsense. The Climate Change Reconsidered series of reports of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) summarize thousands of studies from peer-reviewed scientific journals that either refute or cast serious doubt on the climate scare. They conclude that we are not causing a climate crisis.
I, and several other Ottawans, submitted questions to the organizers that challenged the City’s plans. But, not surprisingly, all of our questions were censored out, and the candidates were able to avoid these inconvenient issues entirely.
To make absolutely sure that debate #4 was a complete whitewash, with only climate alarmist messages being communicated, the organizers also eliminated from the event the candidate who most seriously opposed the City’s energy plans – Mike Maguire. Also eliminated, even though he accepted, in writing, a written commitment from the organizers that he would participate in the fourth debate, was mayoral candidate Ade Olumide. But then Olumide had criticized McKenney on several issues, especially McKenney’s wild plan to hugely boost Ottawa’s cycling budget (for bike paths). In “Media Censorship Could Cost Taxpayers $1.7 Billion,” an October 5 news release issued by Olumide and ignored by the press, he said:
“We should increase the cycling budget, but a 1,250% increase to $250 million AND maybe $40 million yearly interest on that debt over four years is unethical because people [are] dying due to the waitlist to enter a drug treatment program and the lack of supportive housing.”
“I was invited for this debate. I accepted. They confirmed my participation. And all of a sudden, out of concern because I am raising substantial issues that are uncomfortable for their horse in the mayoral race, I’m being excluded.”
The extreme left-wing bias of the activist organizers was also revealed when, at the last debate, Jay Nera interrupted the meeting to complain about the censorship he had experienced for asking an important but politically incorrect question in the 3rd debate. Ironically, he was censored and escorted out by security, with some audience members calling out, “let him finish.”
In contrast, when a person stood up to yell out about native rights, a politically correct topic, after the questions from the audience were complete in debate #2 in Kanata, the moderators let her say her peace. The activist moderator responded by saying, “Thank you very much,” and, of course, security was not called.
This double standard does nothing to increase public trust in the process. On our home page at HOME | ICSC – Canada, we are asking the public to complete a survey to tell us what they think of all this.
Sadly, climate change corruption and even intimidation have seeped down to the ward level in Ottawa as well. When, on October 6, I got up to ask my question of candidate James Dean in the Q&A at the debate in my ward (Knoxdale-Merivale, Ward 9, organized and run by the Fisher Heights and Area Community Association), left-wing candidate Sean Devine quickly interrupted and launched into a tirade of ad hominem personal attacks against me, calling me a “climate change denier” and other insults.
Of course, as a local resident, I had every right to ask a question, especially since I was well within their 3-minute time limit for questioners. However, when I tried to respond and ask my question to Dean, the moderator tried to stop me from speaking while not telling Devine to apologize for his unwarranted attack and let Dean answer my question. Similarly, the moderator did not attempt to stop people in the audience from yelling at me but told me not to interrupt the meeting.
Then, all hell broke loose. A man beside me shouted out that I was not wearing a mask. I responded that it was recommended but not required, which is currently correct in Ontario. But then suddenly, I had the moderator and two dozen people attacking me, saying I had to leave if I didn’t put on the mask immediately! I repeated that it was not required, but the audience became so aggressive that, with no attempt by the moderator to calm everyone down, I eventually put on a mask to shut them up. Unfortunately, even this did not pacify the woke organizers, and apparently unconcerned about possible COVID transmission, one of the people running the event came over to yell in my face that I had better keep the mask on or else.
The City of Ottawa’s public health department wrote to me the next day:
“Masks are no longer mandatory in most indoor settings with some exceptions such as hospitals, long-term care, and OPH clinics. Private facilities and private organizers may recommend that masks be worn. Masks continue to be strongly recommended in crowded situations, and therefore, in the case of elections, the facility or organization may recommend the use of the mask. Not wearing a mask does not result in legal action.”
So, the debate organizers and many in the audience were being bullies, using the mask issue in an apparent attempt to distract people from thinking about the issues I tried to bring up and instead intimidate and silence an evil “climate change denier.” My attackers were lucky—others may be less forgiving than I am when personally attacked, so the exchange could have easily degenerated into something more serious.
Not everyone in the audience agreed with this abuse, however. Following the meeting, a dozen people asked for the ICSC-Canada flier, and many said they agreed with the point of view I was expressing and that I should not have been shouted down. Devine was NOT the moderator, one said, and should not have been allowed to interrupt, not just me, but others as well.
Not surprisingly, for the next debate between candidates for councilor in my ward, the KnoxdaIe MerivaIe Council (KMC) organizers screened all questions from the public in advance. Only those selected by the organizers were selected to be posed by the moderator, again ensuring nothing inconvenient would be asked. However, when I asked the KMC secretary what the process was to submit questions and explained the problems this pre-screening approach created in the mayor candidate debates, he did not reply.
On October 14, ICSC-Canada delivered a Zoom presentation concerning the problems with Ottawa’s plans, something everyone should see, a recording of which we will share shortly. Yet, several days earlier, when I asked the Federation of Citizen’s Associations of Ottawa to include a link to the advertisement for our presentation on their site, I was told no; they worked with Ecology Ottawa and then named various other groups, all of which support climate alarmism.
The situation in Ottawa is a textbook case of how eco-extremists have completely distorted the democratic process in a city. This is undoubtedly happening across the western world as more and more cities declare nonsensical “Climate Emergencies” and then ram multi-billion-dollar virtue signaling projects down their citizen’s throats, censoring out all dissenting views. Jay Nera, the People’s Party of Canada candidate who interrupted the fourth mayor’s debate, summed up the situation in Ottawa perfectly when he said:
“I’d like to talk about censorship because, in the last debate, my question and other people’s questions were censored by Rogers.
This is a democracy; it’s important for people to have information so that they can make informed votes.
If they are censoring people, then they are not allowing you to make informed votes.
The only candidate that was able to answer the questions, candidate Maguire is not here today.
Everyone here ought to ask themselves: ‘Why are they censoring so many questions?’ and ‘Why are the questions so biased?’
I was censored from Rogers, go check Rogers, the last debate, and you won’t see me, and so many other questions. You’ll see how much censorship there is.
Ask yourself why a democracy should have censorship. Ask yourself. Informed voting. If you’re not informed, you’re not voting properly.”
But then, that is precisely what eco-activists want, uninformed voters. Because if voters really understood the enormous fraud that the climate change scare has become, they would be running politicians who support it out of town on a rail.