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See Jane run

Jane Scharf

Jane Scharf

Last night’s wacky mayoral debate on social issues started out like a three-ring circus!

In Ottawa, we have 20 candidates running for mayor. Yes, twenty. Jim Watson’s leading the race with about 35%, then Larry O’Brien with maybe 17%, and Clive Doucet and Andy Haydon each have something like 7%. The other 16 candidates share the remaining 34% of the decided vote.

The problem is that none of the debates can accommodate that many candidates. It would be too unwieldy. So the organizers are usually only inviting the top four. The other 16 are understandably unhappy with this arrangement.

Larry O’Brien and Andy Haydon both elected not to attend last night’s debate. I guess they (or their advisors) figured they’d be better off saying nothing about social issues rather than running the very real risk of saying something stupid.

So the #5 and #6 ranked candidates were invited by the organizers to participate last night: Charlie Taylor and Mike Maguire.

The debate – which was very well-attended, incidentally – started off in rather spectacular fashion as Jane Scharf, one of the “bottom 16” candidates, insisted on joining the other four on stage. She refused to leave when asked. The crowd began yelling both pro and anti-Jane stuff, like “Throw her out!” and “Take her purse, she’ll follow!” and “Stand your ground Jane!” (Most comments seemed to be anti-Jane.)

The debate was delayed by half an hour because of all this chaos. And CBC’s Kathleen Petty, who had been billed as the moderator, didn’t (wouldn’t?) moderate. She stayed, but she didn’t moderate. Instead, the executive director of the Somerset West Community Health Centre took over the moderator role.

Jane remained on stage – with a security guard posted by her side – as the debate got underway. She insisted on interjecting her answers to the questions, despite the lack of a microphone and the growing hostility of the crowd. At one point she even went and got a chair and plopped herself down beside Clive Doucet.

Eventually two police officers appeared on stage and escorted Jane Scharf away.

Her tactics may be heavy-handed and disruptive, but you’ve got to hand it to her – she’s getting a lot more name recognition than the other “bottom 16” candidates. She’s not increasing her odds of getting elected by being a pain in the ass, but she never really had a chance anyway.

Personally, I’d be so uncomfortable standing on a stage where I clearly wasn’t welcome while the audience heckled me. I can’t relate on any level to her willingness to put herself in that position.

As for the other candidates, I have to say I was impressed with Charlie Taylor’s stand on various issues, and I liked Mike Maguire. He and I aren’t aligned on social issues, so I could never vote for him, but he seems like a truly likable person. Clive Doucet was in fine form, and his idealism is tempered by his years of experience as a city councilor. Jim Watson? He’s probably our only real chance to defeat Larry O’Brien.

I haven’t decided who to vote for yet.

(I ended up tweeting the debate, by the way. It hadn’t even occurred to me to do that until I got there. Now that I have an iPhone I can do that sort of thing. There were about half a dozen of us tweeting it. If you want to follow me on Twitter, my name is soozoom.)

7 comments to See Jane run

  • ciaochow

    What a fiasco that was. Entertaining and frustrating at the same time. I felt a collective gasp when the police came on stage and took her away. It was though most people were happy to see her go but didn’t exactly want to cheer on the police. In the end she probably got what she wanted – everyone’s talking about her.

    The debate overall was a mess. The moderator kept leaving the stage, asked the same question twice, and didn’t exactly inspire discussion so the whole event left me disappointed. However, I really liked Charles Taylor too, a fellow cyclist as mayor would be a dream come true.

  • Arden

    It’s no secret that Doucet’s got my vote, he was one of only two councilors I’ve liked, and agreed with his voting record. I don’t think Watson needs my vote to help defeat O’Brien, unless things change drastically in the next few weeks, I’ll be voting with my heart.

  • rww

    I can understand the rationale for just inviting the four leading candidates but I don’t understand the rationale for inviting some of the fringe candidates and excluding others.

  • reb

    it was great to see you i was retweeting you and 2 others
    My favourite tweet of the night is:
    LucyvanOlden Lucy van Oldenbarnev
    If Scharf keeps this up, she’s not going to get elected…#scharfwatch #ottvote

  • Gillian

    Have you met our ward candidates yet? I remember your mentioning Willard and Kostiuk (sp) and Willard appeared at my door last night. We had a very pleasant chat. I don’t know how she’ll do, but I was impressed.

  • Interesting night. I use to cover municiple politics in Niagara – it’s amazing what some people will do for attention.
    Not one of the candidates (mayor or councillor) in my area has come around to my door yet. Not even a flyer. I live in the “lower income” area, so I’m not surprised – it’s not that we’re poor here – just not as affluent as the rest of the town, so most of the politicians ignore us.

  • Jane was at the CUPE info session on P3s the next morning (I went and was glad I went) and described herself as one of the bottom 16 candidates, when she got up to ask a question. She actually said more than she asked. I also like Mike Maguire and used to work in the same building as his Dad so I saw him every now and then. But Mike should have run as councillor first and then next time, as mayor. As we saw with O’Brien, you can’t just jump into being mayor if you have no experience with the process.

    I have to blog a little about the P3 thingy, but first I have to go hand out more flyers.