Thursday, July 9, 2009

 

IN THIS TOWN, PARK "REALITY" OUTSIDE CITY HALL

Ottawa's beleaguered mayor, Larry O'Brien, still has about a month of thumb-twiddling before Ontario Associate Chief-Justice, Douglas Cunningham, renders judgement on his political future.

Regulars will recall that O'Brien is charged with two criminal counts of "influence peddling" in order to get rid of opponent, Terry Kilrea, during the fall 2006 Ottawa municipal election. Despite the best legal defence money can buy, the ultimate decision about the Mayor's future in politics rests now with the presiding judge who has advised that he will rule on August 12.

Meantime management of the city of Ottawa, the country's 4th largest, and your nation's capital city has been in the fairly competent hands of acting Mayor, Michel Bellemare. Sadly all good things must end. Ottawa's governing structure requires that the role of Deputy-Mayor rotates, roughly every 3 months amongst members of City Council. Since July 6, the new guy at the (acting) helm is councillor, Doug Thompson. Oh my!

Whilst Canada's other large cities grapple with real problems: Toronto's garbage strike. Montreal's concerns over losing the east end Shell Oil refinery. Vancouver's security plans for the 2010 Olympic Games. - Ottawa's acting Mayor Thompson, is being ridiculed nationwide for his lame decision to honour soft-porn diva, Shannon Tweed.

Won't you please step-back to those thrilling days of yesteryear: The Newfoundland born Ms Tweed, once served cocktails at an Ottawa restaurant, and as a part-time fashion model, the former Playboy Playmate, was named Miss Ottawa Valley back in 1977. Next week, she'll be in town along with long-time partner, KISS front man, Gene Simmons. The 1980's glam-rock band is headlining the Ottawa "bluesFest", an opportunity for Tweed to visit with past friends and acquaintances. The couple, along with their teen aged kids, are best known for the popular American reality TV series, "Family Jewels".

One of (acting) Mayor Thompson's first moves this week was to declare next Wednesday, Shannon Tweed Day...Ahem! Well...err...not so fast. After he made the proclamation, he was told that such honours are reserved for longtime residents who have made significant contributions to Ottawa. He's been both chastised and castigated by his City Council. Plus he's suffered the embarrassment of calling Ms Tweed to say sorry...the deal is off.

Thompson says: "To be honest, I really didn't know who she was...I spoke to the media before the item had been fully vetted and I made a mistake. I admit it." Although Thompson has more than 25 years of municipal political experience, most of it has been in rural eastern Ontario's Osgoode Township. And, we have the former Mike Harris Ontario Tory government to thank for making Osgoode a quite rural part of the City of Ottawa.

You live, and you learn. About the only redeeming quality of this brouhaha has been that Thompson admits his mistake. Something the real Mayor, Larry O'Brien hasn't yet been able to do over the efforts to get Terry Kilrea out of the 2006 election. Maybe Mr. Justice Cunningham may help him see the light come mid-August.

Meantime, while Shannon Tweed is not getting her day in Ottawa on July 15...July 14 has been proclaimed "Yousuf Karsh Day", to honour the late world renowned portrait photographer who called Ottawa home for all of his stellar career. His widow, Estrellita Karsh will be in town to present the city with nine of her late husband's photographs including his most famous - The scowling iconic photo of Winston Churchill taken at Ottawa's Chateau Laurier Hotel in the months after World War II.

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