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NEWS/POLITICS/FOOD/ARTS/SPORTS/FASHION/LIFESTYLE $4.95

WINTER/SPRING 2021

Mélanie Albert

— an elite fitness model who has become a champion at fighting cancer

Ineptitude and inaction by the Ottawa Police Services Board is responsible for misogynistic rape culture at the Ottawa Police

John Scott Cowan on free speech and academic freedom in universities

Artist Cathy Marks portrays nature in all its beauty

ottawalife.com

Historic LeBreton Flats * Ottawa Public Library * ByTowne Cinema * Nicholson Gluckstein Lawyers


Photo: Adrien Williams

OTTAWA ART GALLERY IS OTTAWA’S HOME FOR THE ARTS

CHECK OUT WHAT’S ON AT OAGGAO.CA | ADMISSION IS FREE

50 Mackenzie King Bridge, Ottawa, ON K1N 0C5 | 613.233.8699 | info@oaggao.ca


WINTER 2021 VOLUME 23

NUMBER 1

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18 Melanie Albert — a champ . . . in life

Sculpture by Cathy Marks, cedarlakes.ca

The Orléans resident was diagnosed last spring with invasive ductal carcinoma, two weeks after her 40th birthday. No matter how taut your abs may be, that kind of news still feels like a sucker punch. Her birthday happens to land on March 18th, the day Canada went into COVID lockdown. PHOTO : SEAN SISK PHOTOGRAPHY

Film faux pas

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After 32 years of operation, the independent ByTowne Cinema has been forced to close its doors. Covid-19, declining audiences and a smaller selection of films to show gave owner Bruce White no choice but to shut down.

Ottawa Police Services Board are accessories to police misconduct

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The incompetence and inaction of the Ottawa Police Services Board has made them enablers and accessories to the rape culture at the Ottawa Police Service (OPS). OPS Chief Peter Sloly bends the truth with ease and talks about reform while doing the opposite. If Ottawa is serious about reinventing policing, they should look west to Edmonton Chief of Police Dale McFee — a leader who walks his talk, sets a high bar, and holds officers accountable for their actions.

At Holy Trinity — school is a song

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Holy Trinity Catholic School Board teacher Gabriel Leury knows how to captivate a classroom and an audience and everyone comes away singing!

Free speech and academic freedom

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Universities are supposed to be the incubators and testing grounds for ideas. But now, in much of the developed world, they are experiencing challenges in maintaining the practices of free speech, open debate, and academic freedom.

columns

Guest editorial ...................................... 4 Best picks ............................................ 5 Aristocrat of Scent ................................. 8 Gallery: Cathy Marks ........................... 10 Profile: Disegno Fine Jewellery ................. 12 In search of style .................................. 16 Ottawa Public Library ............................ 29 Op-ed: Bill C-7 .................................... 31 Historic Ottawa: LeBreton Flats................ 45

series

Police misconduct ................................ 21 Students First ....................................... 32 Students First: SHSM ............................ 33 Business: Chris Pereira and CEI ............... 38 Business: Nicholson Gluckstein Lawyers ... 39 Business: AbilitiCBT online therapy .......... 40 Close to home far from ordinary: Mont-Tremblant ...................... 43


guest editorial by Greg MacDougall and Steve Saunders

Canadians are staring into a debt abyss. year ago, Canada had a budgetary surplus of $3.6 billion. The unemployment A rate was 5.6 per cent. A month later COVID-19 changed everything. General lockdowns began, and the deficit exploded; $14.8 billion in red ink in March, and

a combined $86.8 billion for April and May, the first two months of the new fiscal year (FY) 2020-21. COVID-19 cases are now near 820,000 with more than 21,000 Canadians deaths. While the economy has emerged from the coma it entered last spring, specific sectors such as travel, tourism, airline travel, hospitality and arts and entertainment remain moribund. Overall GDP growth this year will contract by 5.8 per cent. The Bank of Canada projects growth of about 4 per cent in 2021 as vaccine campaigns are anticipated to accelerate, and close to 5 per cent in 2022. So how bad are the deficit and debt numbers? Canada closed the books on the 2019-20 FY with a deficit of $39.4 billion: relatively small in the context of a G-7 economy, but still jarring. Truly prudent economic stewardship would have seen the government running, at the least, small surpluses. It bears repeating that in losing the 2015 election to Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, the Harper government bequeathed a balanced federal budget. Our $39.4 billion deficit last year has decupled (X10) to $381.6 billion as projected in the Fall Economic Statement. In lock-step, the accumulated federal debt has galloped from $721.4 billion to a projected $1,107.4 billion – or in layman’s terms, more than $1.1 trillion. This figure does not include an additional $70-100 billion in stimulus that the government has indicated it will spend over the next three FYs. The government will also amend the Borrowing Authority Act to pump up the limit on borrowing to $1.831 trillion; 50 per cent higher than the previous limit which was eclipsed earlier this year as Parliament approved emergency spending powers in order to deal with the crisis. Governments in Canada have borrowed massively to support household incomes and businesses through the pandemic. Rock-bottom financing rates will help governments manage the near-term challenges associated with the additional debt burden, but the ramifications of this massive and sudden buildup in public debt are inescapable over the longer term. This new debt burden is truly generational. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has determined the principal on the federal debt will not begin to be paid down until 2061. Graduates of the class of ’21 will be pondering retirement by that time! The federal government has financed this massive fiscal response and deficit, with the sale of Government of Canada bonds. What is different this time is that rather than bonds remaining recorded on the balance sheets of commercial banks, the Bank of Canada buys these bonds from for instance, the chartered banks on the secondary market. The Bank then creates electronic deposits with the chartered banks – termed settlement balances – which the banks in turn lend out to their customers. Termed Quantitative Easing (QE), this process of internal banking industry sausage-making, coupled with the Bank’s overnight interest rate of 0.25 per cent, is also tied to the Bank’s inflation goal which is to maintain inflation within a narrow band of 1-3 per cent annually, with 2 per cent being the sweet spot.While high inflation as witnessed in Canada during the 1970s and early 80s is destructive, a lack of inflation or deflationary pressures in the economy is also troublesome. Through QE, the Bank of Canada has bought more than $300 billion in Government of Canada bonds since March 2020. Prior to COVID-19, the Bank held just $76 million in government bonds. Overall, the balance sheet of the Bank of Canada has grown from about $120 billion in March 2020 to $548 billion in December 2020. And the Bank will continue to buy $4 billion a week in government bonds for the foreseeable future. So, should we be worried? Interest rates on borrowing is at historically low levels with the government paying as low as 0.25 per cent (negative if we factor in inflation), charges on the federal debt actually fell this year. And as a per centage of GDP, public debt charges will only rise marginally from 0.9 per cent this year to 1.2 per cent by 2025-26. The IMF believes the Canadian federal response has been comprehensive, largely coherent, and alleviated the financial pain felt by millions of Canadians. But the bill will come due. And it will have to be paid n

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publisher/managing editor Dan Donovan art director & web editor Karen Temple social media manager Kat Walcott cover photo by Sean Sisk Photography make-up: Corey J. Stone photographers Mika Baumeister, Khristina Debrouin, Sean Sisk, Jessica Thomas,

Kim Woolgar, Clark Van Der Beken fashion editor Alexandra Hunt accounts Joe Colas C.G.A bookkeeper Joan MacLean contributing writers Michael Bussière,

John Scott Cowan, Sid Cratzbarg , Sofia Donato, Mckenzie Donovan, Grace Giesbrecht, Matt Horwood, Alexandra Hunt, Helen Long, Greg MacDougal, Aaron Nava, Steve Saunders web contributors Susan Alsembach, Luke Barry,

Adele Blair, Sofia Donato, Mckenzie Donovan, Dave Gross, Jennifer Hartley, Ryan Lythall, Owen Maxwell, Kate More, Zarha Nafal, Aaron Nava, Rusel Olsen, Mona Staples, Kat Walcott, Keith Whittier social media Kat Walcott student intern Grace Giesbrecht corporate advisor J. Paul Harquail,

Charles Franklin corporate counsel Paul Champagne editor in memoriam Harvey F. Chartrand advertising information

For information on advertising rates, visit www.ottawalife.com call (613) 688-LIFE (5433) or e-mail info@ottawalife.com Canadian Publication Mail Product Sales Agreement #1199056. Ottawa Life Magazine, 301 Metcalfe St. Lower Level, Ottawa. Ontario K2P 1R9 tel: (613) 688-5433 fax: (613) 688 -1994 e-mail: info@ottawalife.com Web site: www.ottawalife.com Follow us on Twitter: @ottawalifers On Instagram: ottawalifemag Like us at www.Facebook.com/ OttawaLifeMagazine Ottawa Life is listed in Canadian Advertising Rates & Data (CARD). Ottawa Life subscription rates: one year $48, includes postage, plus HST (four issues). Two years $85, includes postage, plus HST (eight issues). Add $20 per year for postage outside Canada. Subscriber service is 613-688-LIFE (5433) Ottawa Life Magazine is printed in Canada on recycled paper.


best picks

KILNE ­— great meals start with the best knife set on the market Kilne Cookware — a new direct-to-consumer Canadian company co-founded by the same man who founded ENDY. Its first product is a six-piece knife set worthy of a professional chef, but designed for the home cook. Crafted from high-grade German steel, the set includes four classic blades (chef knife, general-purpose Santoku, bread knife and paring), detachable kitchen shears and a sharpening steel in an attractive acacia wood block. Bonus: the set is only $190, with free shipping across Canada. They also offer a 60-day trial, free returns and lifetime guarantee. $190 AVAILABLE AT kilne.com

Hamilton Beach Egg Bites Maker — THE PERFECT HEALTHY BREAKFAST SOLUTION Do you love coffee shop style egg bites? Enjoy delicious egg bites from the comfort of your own home with the Hamilton Beach Egg Bites Maker*. It makes two egg bites or two poached eggs in under 10 minutes and its compact, easy-tostore design fits anywhere. $49 AVAILABLE AT homehardware.ca

Baffin Men's Copenhagen boot

While function precedes fashion, Baffin® is committed to providing footwear that looks great too. The Copenhagen’s waterproof B-Teck, dry breathable membrane keeps you protected from persistent all-season elements. Designed to wear from the streets to the office they also keep you warm and toasty outside with man’s best friend. • Temperature Rating: All Season, comfort range from 10°C/50°F to -10°C/14°F • Liner: Thermaplush, breathable next-to-foot comfort • Waterproof bootie construction • Removable insole • Base: EVA mid sole with ICE BITE Grip: All-new ICE BITETM technology for leading slip resistance on ice and in cold environments. 3x more slip resistant than conventional rubber out sole • Waterproof neoprene side panel and back-loop pull for easy slip-on $179.99 AVAILABLE AT Mark’s Work Warehouse and www.baffin.com

FoodSaver Multi-Use Food Preservation System The FoodSaver® Multi-Use Food Preservation System combines the power of a heat sealer with the convenience of a handheld vacuum sealer, in one unit. Use the heat seal strip for long-term preservation in the freezer, and the handheld sealer for short-term preservation in the fridge or pantry. It keeps food fresh up to 5x longer in the freezer compared to ordinary storage methods, and also helps prevent freezer burn. FoodSaver can also help fridge and pantry items stay fresh for longer. For even more ways to use, try the marinate setting for flavour in minutes, and the dry and moist settings for an airtight seal regardless of the type of food you're sealing. $199 foodsaver.ca

Wholly Veggie complete meals

Wholly Veggie Nothing we do is made from a lab, or synthesized from a protein. Just great quality vegetables, simple seasonings and chef inspired recipes. Available at local grocery chains and fine food stores in these 3 varieties: Sweet & Spicy Chickpea: A delicious and nutritious blend of chickpeas, tomatoes, butternut squash, lentils, spinach, chickpea balls, and red bell peppers, delicately coated in a sweet & spicy sauce. Coconut Cauliflower: A delicious and nutritious blend of cauliflower florets, black beans, red lentils, green peas, quinoa, and carrots, delicately coated in a ginger coconut milk sauce. Southwest Broccoli: A delicious and nutritious blend of broccoli florets, green lentils, black beans, red bell peppers, organic corn, chickpea balls, and onions, delicately coated in a tomato and red pepper puree. $ 8.49 whollyveggie.com 5 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021


best picks

OLANG Fall winter Boots

Now more than ever, we want to prioritize our safety to protect ourselves and our loved ones. The Olang 2020-2021 collection was designed to keep everyone safe and comfy. Equipped with a stainless steel pivoting and folding cleat system, the boots will let you stay up on your feet all winter long. With the huge variety of textures and styles, you can undoubtedly find a perfect pair of boots that will elevate your winter look. The comfort zone of -30 degrees Celsius and the multilayer adjustment innersole made of 90% wool with insulating and reflective aluminum film will ensure your feet are warm even on the most chilling days. Prices vary olangcanada.com

Hamilton Beach Easy Access Ultra Programmable Coffee Maker — WAKE UP TO THE AROMA OF FRESHLY BREWED COFFEE EVERY MORNING The Hamilton Beach Easy Access Ultra Programmable Coffee Maker* has a large 12 cup capacity and a convenient easyaccess design. The brew basket swings out to add coffee. And the water reservoir with handle easily removes for filling. $79.99 AVAILABLE AT homehardware.ca

Sproud: Sustainable Pea-Based Milk Alternative

Swedish-born, Canadian-sourced Sproud is a new plant-based milk alternative that boasts incredible taste, numerous health benefits, and greater sustainability than other milk alternatives. These exciting benefits all stem from one unlikely source: peas! An entirely new protein for milk substitutes, pea-based Sproud uses less water and land then traditional dairy or almond milk. It is available in four flavours and is soy, gluten, nut and dairy free. It’s emergence on the dairy-free scene introduces a leading alternative to all the alternatives. Sproud will soon be produced in Canada using Canadian peas. $4.99 besproud.com

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The Northern Kiln: a virtual pottery store featuring the work of local potters

The Northern Kiln is a sleek new online retail platform for potters across Canada that launched January 25, 2021 as both a way for local potters to bring their work to a virtual market and a way for customers and enthusiasts to shop for it. Support local artisans safely in the pandemic and fill your love for functional, beautiful, quality Canadian pottery by shopping online at The Northern Kiln. Ottawa-based potters featured on the site include Steffi Acevedo Ceramicst*, Gilmer Clayworks, ERM Pottery, Muraï Céramique, and Iben Overgaard. thenorthernkiln.ca *The Ottawa Tumblers are by potter Steffi Acevedo.

Moooove over, traditional vodka. Vodkow is here!

It sounds like a Trivial Pursuit question. Q: “What did the Mongols ferment into alcohol over a thousand years ago?” A: “Milk sugar, also known as lactose.” While milk sugar produces a cleaner, smoother spirit, this ancient recipe is rarely used today because of its cost and production challenges. Almontebased Dairy Distillery is taking up that challenge by using the lactose in a dairy by-product to create a unique product line of spirits called Vodkow. While Dairy Distillery has paused tours and tastings during COVID-19, its retail store in Almonte remains open at 34 Industrial Drive. Visitors can view the distillery’s beautiful copper stills through its glass façade. AVAILABLE AT www.vodkow.com and LCBO’s across Ontario.


Endy pillow: comfort support and customizable

New Melitta 100% Responsibly Sourced K-Cups

Melitta K-Cup® Pods are 100% responsibly sourced coffee and recyclable across Canada. Melitta’s K-Cup® Pods not only offer superior taste but also reinforce our fundamental value and commitment to sustainable development. Melitta is proud to play a role in continuing to protect future generations of coffee growers and to ensuring that Canadians continue to enjoy our coffee - and feel good while they do! These K-Cup® pods maintain the same high quality, great tasting coffee experience you’ve always enjoyed from Melitta. The new Melitta K-Cup® Pods are available in two varieties: 100% Colombian Medium Roast and European Deluxe Medium Dark Roast, containing 30 coffee pods each. $17.99 shop.melitta.ca

The best food. The best shopping experience. Making life better

Farm Boy is Ontario’s fastest growing local fresh food retailer. It’s newest store at 830 Belfast Road, in Ottawa’s Train Yards is delivering an easier shopping experience with extended aisles and a greater selection of items including 1200+ Farm Boy private labels products, and a new artisan bread counter located in the Bake Shop. The meat department offers a greater selection of Canadian pork, chicken, and beef with additional Chef Prepped marinated meat creations and meal ideas. New features also include a food-truck-style “Burger Stop” that serves up Farm Boy’s popular burgers and fries (including meatless options), a full-service hot bar and salad bar packed with Farm Boy favourite dishes, and an expanded variety of fresh, delicious chef-inspired meals for graband-go options. Don’t forget to check out the in-store model train. A must see! farmboy.ca

Endy’s fan favourite pillow is machinewahabble, hypoallergenic, and entirely customizable — you can easily add or remove shredded foam from the inner core to make the pillow firmer of fluffier to your preference. The hypoallergenic crushed microfibre fill has a plush silky soft feel of down. Starting at $80 for a standard-sized pillow. endy.com

Seamless comfort

The successful launch of Wonderbra’s New Wave collection instantly made a lot of fans who are now eager to update their spring wardrobes with brighter colours. Wonderbra’s Seamless Wave Pullover Bra and New Wave HIgh Cut Panty (sold seperately) are modern, simple, effortless, and extremely comfortable undergarments with 360° stretch fabric fit every shape and style and provide all day comfort and ultimate smoothing that feels like your second skin. Both are available in siazes small-2XL. WonderBra New Wave Seamless Pullover Bra, shown here in Warm Steel and Ditsy Leopard Print $52 • WonderBra New Wave High Cut Panty $18 wonderbra.ca

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aristocrat of scent by Sid Cratzbarg

Become a Fragranceistas oy the world has changed this year and everyone is trying to adapt to the Covid B pandemic. So many people are working from home and they continue to wear their fragrance. I love starting the day with a spritz of my favourite fragrance! It

is interesting to see that fragrance sales continue to do well globally in spite of COVID-19.

AU THÉ BLANC Parfum Thé Blanc was launched in 2003 and is described as a Floral Woody Musk fragrance that is used and loved by men and women worldwide.

The pandemic given Fragranceistas the opportunity to try different scents at home without being told “You can’t wear fragrance at work”. A good fragrance continues to serve as an extension of our personality. Remember your right fragrance makes a statement that people are unlikely to forget.! SID’S TOP GENDER-NEUTRAL FRAGRANCES Many luxury brands are creating gender-neutral fragrances focussing on finding a perfect blend. These are some of my favourite amazing scents for the winter season!

I have to say the unisex Diptyque Candles are some of the best luxurious smelling candles to enjoy this season. Hope you find your favourite one and be part of The Diptyque World! These amazing candles are only found at Holt Renfrew and Nordstrom stores in Canada.

It is composed of fragments of white tea, blended with Jasmine, bergamot and amber. Have to say I prefer the White tea fragrance for daytime as I find the green tea fragrance is more suited for evening. During this pandemic we all need to take time and try to relax and destress. The Blvgari luxury spas are world famous and now you can experience them by using an At-Home set consisting of body lotions, shampoos, cologne, soaps, hair conditioners, and scented towels.

DIPTYQUE 60 TH ANNIVERSARY CANDLE COLLECTION The cool days are now approaching and what better way to experience them is by lighting the Exquisite Parisian Luxury Diptyque scented candles. The new Graphic collection was launched in January. The classic candles were updated with geometrical patterns and striped designs on the bottle. Every candle is fabulous but I absolutely love The Tuberose with its floral scent that is balanced with warmer musky notes. 8 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021

BLVGARI AU THÉ VERT Parfum The amazing luxury brand Blvgari was founded in Rome in 1884 and established a reputation for creating Exquisite Italian Jewellery designs. The first fragrance that Blvgari offered was the beautiful au Thé Vert in 1992. It has been described as a Citrus Aromatic Fragrance for men and women. It is composed of fragments of green tea that is blended with jasmine and citrus.

I guarantee once you try this collection you will be hooked! The tea collection in Canada is found only at Holt Renfrew.

ACQUA DI PARMA COLONIA SPECIAL EDITION This company dates back to 1916 in Parma where they created the company’s first original fragrance called


Sid’s Fragrance Tips

best picks

1. Try not to choose a fragrance in a hurry after a long day of work. Spray your favourite choice and walk around the store for 10 minutes to see how it reacts on your skin. 2. Stop your search after trying 3-4 fragrances. The nose is tired and it is difficult to assess new aromas. 3. “Yes you can wear fragrance even though you are wearing your mask”. Place your mask on a cloth or paper towel and spray the cords or straps no more than twice . Wait till dry(30 seconds) and then put on your mask and enjoy your fabulous scent! For cleaning use a scent free liquid detergent or soap. Remember to rinse it thoroughly and air dry on a cloth or paper towel. 4..‘Tis The Season” heavy and intense fragrances will warm you during the Winter months. Light floral and citrus fragrances are fabulous for Summer days .

Lone Star Texas Grill’s new Frozen Marg-GO-Rita’s Lone Star Texas Grill’s most popular signature margaritas are now available to-go for takeout and delivery, in all 3 flavours! • Classic Lime: Sauza Gold tequila blended with lime & citrus juices, served with fresh orange and lime wedges and a salty rim. • Strawberry Lime Swirl: Sauza Gold tequila blended with lime & citrus juices and allnatural strawberry flavours, served with fresh orange and lime wedges and salty rim. • Blue Raspberry: Sauza Gold tequila and Blue Curaçao blended with lime & citrus juices and all-natural raspberry flavours, served with fresh orange and lime wedges, and a salty rim. Delivering to the GTA & Ottawa lonestar.ca

5. From time to time it is a good idea to change your perfume. By doing this you are developing your olfactory system.

Colonia. It continues to be a classic, iconic brand and today the Aqua Di Parma collections can be found in the worlds most luxurious hotels. Colonia is a timeless scent used by men and women. Colonia consists of citrus notes blended with neroli and jasmine. The company has launched a special limited edition of Colonia with only 300 bottles. Each numbered bottle is made of Murano glass decorated with flakes of 12-ct white gold leaf and the front box label is made of pewter. I love that it is a 180 ml refillable bottle. This special edition is definitely for the man who has everything! The Aqua Di Parma fragrances in Canada are found at Holt Renfrew locations n Send all your comments to cratzbargsid@gmail.com for a chance to win a luxury fragrance! aristocratofscent.ca

Look for La Presserie cold-pressed juices at select Metro stores EIGHT READY-TO-DRINK, COLD-PRESSED JUICES ARE NOW AVAILABLE IN OTTAWA. Toronto-based cold-pressed juice company La Presserie’s delicious artisanal, cold-pressed juices are now available in Ottawa at select Metro locations. Look for fan-favourites like Pomegranate Raspberry and Pineapple Kale, as well as Apple Spinach, Pineapple Grapefruit and Beet Carrot! To bottle the best of nature, La Presserie uses ingredients selected at the peak of ripeness, capturing the delicious and intense flavours of the harvest. Inspired by local markets and restaurants in the South of France, each small-batch recipe begins with only the highest quality fruits and vegetables, with no water, sugar, or preservatives ever being added to La Presserie products. In addition to the offerings at Metro, La Presserie’s family of freshly-frozen juices that are now available online across Ontario. The brand is the first to offer frozen cold-pressed juice options that retain superior flavour and the integrity of its nutrients for up to a year frozen or 14 days refrigerated once thawed. lapresserie.ca 9 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021


Cathy Mark PORTRAYING NATURE IN ALL ITS BEAUTY gallery by Aaron Nava

Cathy’s artistic pursuits brought her to a vocational arts high school followed by David Thompson University in British Columbia for Fine Arts. After finishing a design course in London, Ontario, Cathy began work as a design consultant. Then she went on a studio tour that would change her career. “I have always worked in the art field. I was in a studio tour and I was placed with a blacksmith, so I just started using his equipment and it just went from there. “I really like working with the metal. I like the physicality of it. I like hammering,” she chuckles. “It’s just something I enjoy doing.”

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Cathy Mark is a Scarborough-born artist who works with metals. But unlike some other artists, she says that this year has been good for her art. “In the initial lockdown I wasn’t that busy because all the galleries were closed, and so it was great because I had time to explore other things,” says Mark. “I was doing some stone carving, I got two solid months of carving stone and I really enjoy that. But once the galleries reopened it’s been a really busy season. With spending more time at home, I think people are buying things that they want to look beautiful in their homes, so art sales have been really good…Some of the galleries have been crazy busy this year, so it’s been a good year.” Cathy works from her home studio on the north shore of Lake Scugog. The stones, and driftwood are mostly collected from their 200-acre farm. “My husband does all the wood pieces, he carves the wood out for me,” Mark


shipped it off to them and when they gave it to the couple, they said that everyone was crying, and it was really beautiful. It was nice to make something that meant so much for those people.” Cathy has been creating in the art and design world for 30 years, and her work is featured at plenty of art galleries, stores and shows all around Ontario’s cottage country. (Her website has a list here; Made in Canada Gifts is the place in Ottawa to find her work.) It seems like an arrangement that works for everyone—tourists and visitors want to see unique works from local artists, and to immerse themselves in nature, and galleries and stores want to sell them that experience. Her work is collected worldwide.

says. “He helps collect rocks and he splits the rocks for me. He bought me a jackhammer for my birthday but I can’t even lift it so he has to use it for me,” she laughs.

bay and in Muskoka.”

Her works often capture the way evergreen tree branches bend in the wind, in a way that clay or acrylic sculptures never do. “I’m known for the trees,” Mark says. “That’s what I make the most of and that’s what I sell the most of.”

The whitish sheen that sits on metals where their sides have been ground down evokes a gentle snow, and loops and openings in the metal representing the water give a sense of a placid lake with gentle waves, with the metal darkening towards the centre where the trees would be providing shade from the sun. The effect resembles a stylish black-and-white photograph, but with the detail of three dimensions.

The stainless steel “branches” of the tree catch the light where they bend, giving the viewer a dynamic sense of where the branches turn, no matter where they stand. “I think it’s an iconic image representing Ontario mainly,” Mark says, referring to the ubiquitous white pines that dot this province and which inspire her trees. “If you go out to BC you don’t see that type of tree, they’re more straight up and down with the spruce, whereas we just have that really rugged look in Georgian

Creating her pieces, sometimes by request, has given Mark the opportunity to move others. “I recently did a wall piece for a couple and they were giving it to their friends as a housewarming gift,” says Mark. “It was a couple and they had two children, so they wanted 4 trees in the picture, and it was a lake scene with rocks and beautiful water. The mother had just gone through cancer treatment and she was cancerfree, so they wanted a bird flying above the trees. I created that for them and

It’s easy to see the appeal—her buyers can feel that they’re taking a bit of Ontario with them, often literally. “This is my husband’s family farm, we’re seventh generation on this land,” Mark says. “It was all his ancestors who collected all the rocks out of the fields and put them in the fencerows, and now we’re taking them out of the fencerows and using them for art. And the wood as well is mainly from the property, all the wood we use is old pieces that we found. We have about 60 acres of bush here.” The natural cycles on a farm are a chance for inspiration. “When we go to plant fields, you have to collect the rocks because rocks come up every year out of the soil from the frost,” Mark says. “Every year there’s wagonloads of new rocks that come out of the field. It’s kind of exciting, it’s like a present!” The Mark family have a mixed farm, with a variety of livestock such as goats, sheep and cattle, alongside cash crops like soybeans. Amusingly, their animals can hamper the artistic process. “The goats are outside the door all the time. I had a list of all the pieces I had to make this week and when I went out, the goat had eaten my list!” Between the rock harvests and the interactive farm animals, Cathy Mark’s work represents an Ontario experience as much in reality as they do at first sight n cedarlake.ca 11 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021


profile by Michael Bussiere

Ground control to Major Disegno.

PHOTO: ISTOCK

HOW OTTAWA’S PAMELA COULSTON CREATED THE FIRST JEWELLERY TO GO INTO OUTER SPACE.

anadian pride soared in 1962 with C the launch of Alouette 1 into the ionosphere. It was Canada's first satellite, and the first constructed by a country other than the Soviet Union or the United States. That made us the fourth country in space, five months following the British Ariel 1, but they needed the US and NASA to build theirs. Not to be outdone again, Canada recently marked a big FIRST in Outer Space. It is an accomplishment that should be honoured with a ticker-tape parade down Murray Street, right past Disegno Fine Jewellery. Owner/ designer Pamela Coulston created pieces carried to the International Space Station by astronaut David Saint-Jacques, making her fine jewellery designs the first to leave the confines of Earth’s atmosphere. Take that, USSR, US, and UK! Pamela launched Disegno in 1992, after studying jewellery design in California. She’d been living in Africa and on her return to Canada sought a new creative career. Her 12 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021

designs have been sold in public and private galleries, museums, exclusive cruise ships from the Arctic to the Antarctic and boutiques in Canada, the US, and Europe. Disegno went street retail 13 years ago in the Glebe but soon moved to the Market once the business took off. And, no wonder it did.

While her designs are known for their simplicity (“actually, nothing is harder than ‘simple’ and ‘restrained’ when it comes to any design,” she contends), she’s a stickler for detail and quality. Disegno’s jewellery is handcrafted in platinum and in 18k yellow, white, and rose gold, but even more unusual is that Pamela is one of the very few designers in North America with a penchant for green gold. She’s even experimented with purple gold.Yes, really. Pamela is a twice-accredited gemologist – highly regarded certifications in this trade – and her bold designs feature stunning natural and unusual gems. “I rarely use common and calibrated gems,” she says, “instead, I find the oddities and design the jewellery

David Saint-Jacques took cufflinks and a pendant of the Order of Canada into space . . . the Canadian Space Agency certified and framed the items and gave them back to Rideau Hall.

ABOVE CENTRE: Order of Canada Pendant in 18k gold with a natural Canadian diamond and cuflinks in solid sterling silver. Designed and produced by Pamela Couslston of Disegno Fine Jewellery and available for purchase by recipients of the Order of Canada.


to the gem. While I certainly design diamond jewellery, my love is coloured gems and the green gold makes the deeply saturated colours ‘pop’.” Again, no wonder she won a national competition to send original Canadian jewellery design into space. Custom design is Pamela’s specialty, but she never imagined designing for the Governor General or the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). “I was requested to submit an entry. I stayed late at the boutique one Saturday night with a glass of wine and drew until the wee hours. I submitted it and promptly forgot all about it. Getting the call that I won came as quite the surprise.” The commission required an interpretation of The Order of Canada motif into cufflinks and a convertible 14k gold pendant/broach set with – of course – a Canadian diamond. “Once again, it was about distilling the design down to the simplest, fewest elements needed to express the idea.”

demonstrations, and supported critical operations and maintenance activities. He became the fourth CSA astronaut to conduct a spacewalk and the first CSA astronaut to use Canadarm2 to catch a visiting spacecraft.

Pamela Couslton

And so, up went Disegno’s very fine jewellery with astronaut David SaintJacques in December 2018. SaintJacques’ assignment on the ISS lasted 204 days, the longest ever by a Canadian. Between December and June 2019, he orbited the Earth 3,264 times covering a distance of 139,096,495 kilometers. During his mission, Saint-Jacques conducted Canadian and international science experiments and technology

On November 5, 2020, the CSA’s Communications and Public Affairs Directorate confirmed that, “Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques took cufflinks and a pendant of the Order of Canada into space.These items were brought back to Earth, the Canadian Space Agency certified and framed the items and gave them back to Rideau Hall.” That officially makes Ottawa's Pamela Coulston the first jewellery designer whose stellar creations have gone into space. Another landmark Canadian achievement! Earthlings can see Pamela’s out-ofthis-world designs in her boutique at 100 Murray Street in the Market n disegnojewellery.ca 13 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021


around town by Matt Horwood

Farewell

PHOTO: M T-D

TO THE BYTOWNE CINEMA

fter 32 years of operation, the A independent ByTowne Cinema has been forced to close its doors due

to numerous challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Declining audiences and a smaller selection of films to show gave owner Bruce White no choice but to shut down the theatre on December 26, 2020. “The ByTowne has a fantastic customer base, but many ByTowners just aren't coming these days, and I don't blame them: our staff have done an amazing job with COVID protocols that keep customers as safe as possible. Everyone's risk assessment is personal, and specific to their circumstances. Many just don't want to make a nonessential trip to a cinema,” White said in a farewell letter written on December 4, 2020. The ByTowne was initially slated to close on December 31, after running a final ‘Best of the ByTowne’ series of 21 films from December 21 to 31. But the province-wide lockdown forced the theatre to close on boxing day. Since the theatre has already sold 1050 tickets for the event, White has hopes that the remaining films can be showcased from February 26-March 7, 2021. Some of the scheduled films

14 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021

include Parasite, Metropolis and Stop Making Sense, the concert film the ByTowne showed when it first opened 32 years ago. The Rideau Street theatre was formerly known as the Nelson Cinema, and was built by local entrepreneur Hyman Berlin during the fall and winter of 1946. When the theatre opened its doors on February 10, 1947, it had all the “modern conveniences” of the time, such as an air conditioning system, the very best in ‘terrazzo’ flooring, and 650 seats with capacity for 1,000 people. Berlin leased the theatre to Famous Players two years after its opening, and ran it for nearly 40 years. When Famous Players no longer wanted to run single-screen cinemas in 1988, they moved out and the Berlin family sold the building. White, who had five years earlier purchased the Towne Cinema on Beechwood Avenue with business partner Jean Cloutier, decided to buy the Nelson and renamed it ByTowne. When the Towne’s lease was set to be renewed that year, the pair decided to let it lapse and focus on running their new theatre instead. White says he had a “checkered cinema history” during his youth, having only

seen two movies while in high school since his home town didn’t have a theatre. But he always enjoyed films, and his previous job designing Town cinema’s program guide gave him a path into the theatre industry. White described the changes he made to the ByTowne theatre’s operations over the years as “evolutionary, not revolutionary” such as expanding its program guide, developing a website and installing a digital projector. When the COVID-19 lockdown in March and April 2020 forced the ByTowne to shut its doors, White says it went from being a “reasonably profitable and successful business” to having zero revenue. The theatre had never been closed for more than 24 hours at a time, except for a weeklong shutdown in 2014 to install new seating. When cinemas were allowed to reopen months later, public safety measures mandated that only a maximum of 50 physically-distanced people were permitted to gather at a time, regardless of the theatre’s size. This was a huge limitation on the revenue White could bring in, and with declining ticket sales the ByTowne began losing money every day.


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When Ottawa went into a modified Stage 2 lockdown on October 10, White had hopes that guidelines would be modified to give movie theatres an increased seating capacity once they reopened. A month later, he was disappointed to see this was not the case. “I wish that a bit more thought had been put into it. Clearly for a cinema that seats 100 people, a 50-person limit is a different than a cinema that seats 650 people. Percentages based on the size of theatres would have been more adaptable,” he said. White said during November it

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became clear that until everybody was vaccinated, restrictions on theatres would remain and his business could not be financially viable. That was when he made the difficult choice to close it down. For the next five months,White will be caring for the mothballed cinema and exploring various avenues of selling it. Since August 2019, White has been reaching out to various film societies and independent theatre operators to see who might be interested in purchasing the ByTowne. “I want to retire and sell my business to someone who can run a successful cinema, but right now nobody wants to buy it in order to offer 50 people a show at a time,” he said. Looking back his time at the ByTowne, White said he’s had a lot of fun running the business and giving people from across Ottawa a place to enjoy movies. “It was always really gratifying to come into work and see the results of a previous night’s attendance, and confirm that people still enjoy real cinema. That’s a been a great thing.” n

real client Curtis Jones

BEFORE

To make matters worse, distributors were releasing fewer films for theatres to show, and instead selling those titles directly to streaming services. “They were considering delaying those releases until more people could come to cinemas. Ultimately, I was faced with the prospect of having diminished audiences, and a product selection that was scraping the bottom of barrel,” White said.

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344 Gladstone Ave. PAIHAIR.COM 613-594-5652 15 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021


in search of style by Alexandra Hunt

Find Alex Hunt on Instagram and Twitter @ottawastyle @alexhuntstudio

me happy

L O O K O N T H E BRIG H T S I D E . S P R I NG I S A L M O S T H E R E !

vibrant yellow, often paired with warm colours like, red, orange, and caramel brown.

After living through a difficult year, which included a global pandemic, social upheaval and economic distress, embrace the simple things that help you feel encouraged and uplifted.The easiest way to do this is by adding colour to your day-to-day fashion. For many designers, the inspiration for their spring collections looked ahead optimistically. The popular yellow trend seen on the runways not only reflects the designers’ hope for the future but it also reminds us that warm, sunny days are on the horizon. Prada, Miu Miu, Dolce & Gabbana, Kenzo and Valentino all featured

Pantone released their ‘Colour of the Year’ for 2021, featuring two hues that evoke resilience and hope. ‘Illuminating’ yellow and ‘Ultimate Gray’ are said to represent sunshine coming in as clouds disperse. Whether you throw on a bright yellow coat for spring or pick up this hue in a blazer to be on trend, you’ll find that the yellow separates will brighten both your look and your outlook!

RUNWAY Valentino

Mui Mui

Altuzarra

Kenzo

Prada

Sportmax

16 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021

Dolce & Gabbana


u Hermès Clic H bracelet $790

STREET STYLE

t Keen Ridge Flex Hiking Boot $220

p Studded Detail Backpack PRADA $1,750 u Light Yellow Straight-legged Jeans $79.99, Marshalls

HIT THE TRAILS We’ve all been stuck indoors for months and with spring on the horizon I’ve been making plans to hit the trails. If you go exploring, make sure to bring the essentials: a pair of solid hikers and hiking poles. ABOVE: Keen’s new technology requires 60% less energy to bend, making each step easier, while adding efficiency and comfort. Made with recycled materials, they are water and eco-anti odor repellent.

WORKING FROM HOME Upgrade your office backdrop with fresh artwork from alexhuntstudio.com

Styling your wardrobe for video calls is all about maximizing the details. Pull on a bright blazer or add standout jewelry to show attention to detail. You can always take off your blazer in between calls, but remember to keep it professional and stylish. Don’t forget to consider your surroundings. I frame my backdrop to highlight my artwork and show off my personality. 17 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021


cover by Michael Bussière

Mélanie Albert

A BEAUTIFUL PROFILE IN COURAGE.

18 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021

PHOTO: SEAN SISK PHOTOGRAPHY


The world is sick right now. There we were, happily going about our business when the human race got an unexpected phone call from the World Health Organization informing us that a rogue organism has been detected in our system. Nature had randomly generated something that’s designed to kill us.You may be feeling fine at the moment, free of symptoms, but that’s not going to last, so you’d better be prepared to take your physician’s advice and get ready for some radical treatment.

Mélanie. “You need to go for your yearly check-up. Don’t wait, because I got diagnosed at stage one, but it was aggressive so you have to act.You have to be your own advocate, so get what you need when you feel you need it!”

television show “What Not to Wear”. In 2005, Mélanie was awarded 1st place in the Ottawa Suite Style competition, which earned her a trip to Las Vegas. Mélanie faced a difficult situation when COVID restrictions delayed surgical intervention and made chemo the expedient option to get her cancer under control. “I was very impressed by the fact that egg freezing was rushed before starting chemo treatments, because chemo and radiation may cause fertility problems,”

That’s the kind of call Mélanie Albert received last spring.

Mélanie had good reason to feel fit, energetic, and healthy before her diagnosis. She’s an elite fitness model

Mélanie is well known as the epitome of fitness and good health. She has the awards to prove it. In the world of competitive fitness modelling, she’s a champ. In spirit and ambition, she still is, in spite of the challenge she faces.

YOU NEED TO GO FOR YOUR YEARLY CHECK-UP. DON’T WAIT.

The Orléans resident was diagnosed last spring with invasive ductal carcinoma, two weeks after her 40th birthday. No matter how taut your abs may be, that kind of news still feels like a sucker punch. Her birthday happens to land on March 18th, the day Canada went into COVID lockdown. If you or a loved one has ever received serious medical news, the first response is always the same: there must be a mistake. “I was shocked, I couldn’t believe it. There was nothing in my head that could register that I had cancer,” Mélanie recalls. “After I got the news, I went for a run and made a really healthy meal like I always do. I felt too strong and healthy to think there was anything wrong with my health.” A mammogram was ordered, two years after a small mass was detected in Mélanie’s right breast. It was thought initially to have been a cyst and nothing more, as she did not have a family history of breast cancer. The mammogram was a life saver. “I want to warn women that a doctor won’t necessarily push you to go for a mammogram at the first sign,” says

Mélanie Albert is a licensed professional hairstylist and an elite fitness model.

who wins competitions all over North America. She’s developed and marketed everything from clean-eating tips to classes in stage presence. Mélanie is also a licensed professional hairstylist with 20 years of experience who completed her apprenticeship at La Cité Collegiale in 1999 and took a series of advanced Master colourist classes with Matrix and Wella Professionals. Mélanie’s skills continue to improve through international training with elite educators at the Sebastian Advanced Academy in Los Angeles, and the Toni&Guy Advanced Academy in New York City with celebrity hairstylist Nick Arrojo from TLC’s hit

she says. “It was a very hard process involving three hormones injections done at home in the stomach every day for three weeks.” Most women don’t want to look like Kojak (1970s American TV series starring Telly Savalas), so the heartbreaking side effect of going cueball can be a discouragement for some when chemotherapy is the recommended course of action. “I’m a hair stylist, I love my hair,” she explains. “I put my foot down and said, No! I want this tumour out of me right now before I do chemo. This was April, and I wasn’t going to wait until 19 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021


September, and I really didn’t want that chemo poison in my body.” It was through determined insistence that Mélanie’s surgery was moved up to May to remove a breast tumour. By that time, cancer cells were detected in a lymph node, making post-surgical chemotherapy imperative and urgent.

Mélanie’s home-based hair salon was closed due to lockdown, a blessing in disguise, she feels, that allowed her to concentrate on the battle. Friends tried to be comforting, assuring Mélanie that a wig would do the trick. “But guess what,” she says, “my head’s too small and wigs didn’t fit me. Besides I wasn’t going to spend $4,000, but I’m grateful I received one from the Cancer Society as a donation,” she recalls with emotion in her voice. “How did life go from what felt perfect in every way to suddenly being a living hell? But the social workers and medical team are amazing, and they make all the difference!”

PHOTO: JESSICA THOMAS PHOTOGRAPHY

“I dreaded it. I love what I do and my hair is everything to me. I do photoshoots all the time as a model and my look is my life and my livelihood. How was I supposed to feel!?”

Melanie is well known in the Ottawa region for her work styling brides on their big day.

At the best of times, it’s unsettling going into a hospital for any reason, because it is such an emotionally charged environment. It’s the worst place to be sick, especially during COVID. You want to belt somebody for asking you for the umpteen time if you’ve been outside of the country. But you don’t, because everybody is a model of kindness and patience. St. Francis in scrubs. You struggle not to sob because it will just gunk up your mask. You focus on a single, positive thought as you sit in that little room waiting for your doctor, and you always wait, feeling like a deportation case. Physically distanced and isolated in the isolation. Not to mention being regularly impaled with a weaponsgrade needle, chronic weakness, and the horrible feeling that what’s inside of you may suddenly be outside of you.

the warm embrace. It is our earliest memory of love and security. Reaching out and holding those dear to us and being held in return is a craving we all seek beyond our personal bubbles.

Being sick sucks, and this is a terrible time to be sick. Perhaps the biggest absence we are feeling in our lives is

The Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross wrote about ‘the dark night of the soul’ being the time when one’s heart

20 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021

Friendships just aren’t the same without a good hug. Touch is also essential to healing. It should not pose a risk, but it does. And that could be the cruelest of all COVID consequences, especially for individuals with compromised immune systems. Mélanie now faces three weeks of daily radiation starting in March. She’d probably love a hug from everyone in her life. If a vision of health, feminine beauty and fitness like Mélanie Albert can have her life turned into a living hell, then bad luck is just a card that can be dealt.You gotta love her for the fighter she is.

is receptive to a state of grace. Mélanie Albert has a message to share with the COVID world, and those among us battling illness, as she continues her treatments. Embrace gratitude. “What is it that you are grateful for, what is the good thing that has happened for you during COVID?” Mélanie asks. “Even if there is a heavy weight to carry, there’s always something good in the bad, so you have to find it and be grateful for it.” Fight on with gratitude, everyone. The sun is growing stronger every day. Step outside for a few minutes, and consider this: There's music in the sighing of a reed;There's music in the gushing of a rill; There's music in all things, if men had ears; The earth is but the music of the spheres. - LORD BYRON You can read more about Mélanie Albert and send her your prayers and positive vibes to Melaniealbertfitness on Instagram and Facebook n


police misconduct by Michael Bussière

Is it time to reinvent policing?

PHOTO: KIMBERLY WOOLGAR

Edmonton Chief of Police Dale McFee thinks so.

he numbers tell the story. A report T published in August 2020 by the Ontario Human Rights Commission

(OHRC) found that while Black people comprise 8.8 per cent of Toronto’s overall population, they represent almost 32 per cent of people charged by Toronto police. The numbers are based on the Toronto Police Service’s own data compiled between 2013 and 2017. They confirm what the city’s Black community already knew, informed by a much higher profile statistic in which its members are 20 times more likely to be killed by police than White people. The shockwave that ripples through communities and families as a result are more disturbing with every incident, and the residual trauma and fear reframes the police as enemies of the very citizens they swear “To Serve and Protect.” Toronto mayor John Tory released a package of sweeping reforms last August, the day after the OHRC report was made public. It outlined more than 80 recommendations to address systemic racism within Toronto Police Service. Is it time for police services to reinvent themselves? Edmonton’s Chief of Police Dale McFee thinks so, and he’s already initiated bold action that goes well beyond more recommendations and studies.

Dale McFee was sworn in as Edmonton’s 23rd Chief of Police in February 2019, following 26 years as a police officer in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, where he served as Chief for nine years. McFee was also Deputy Minister of Corrections and Policing in the Ministry of Justice for the Saskatchewan government, and from 2011 to 2014 served as president and past president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. He has lectured nationally and internationally

responded with a speech whose details could be considered a model of change for police services across the country. He announced an action plan at Edmonton Police Service (EPS) that draws upon ongoing rank-and-file involvement with community leaders, declaring that “we are not launching a study. We are not launching a commission or a task force. We’re not writing a 30 to 90 day report. This is a perpetual commitment to evolve the way we

Build the right team, put the right people together. If you’re not seeing improvements, then you probably don’t have the right people in the room. on the topics of leadership and change management in private and public sector organizations. Following the shocking news of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, protests erupted in the U.S., Canada and around the world. Edmonton saw 10,000 people peacefully march at the Alberta Legislature calling for change. On September 21, 2020, Chief McFee

relate and work with our community, particular Indigenous, Black, racialized, and other marginalized communities who typically find themselves to be the victims of an inequitable system.” Chief McFee takes a very scientific, research-driven approach to improving police services in a city with one of the highest crime rates in the country. McFee knows the importance of data, 21 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021


having deep experience as a deputy minister with a background in policing and corrections as well as steering the transformational change file for the entire Saskatchewan government. A culture of transformation was already in place when McFee arrived on the job in Edmonton, so job one was to get the job done. He felt fortunate to have a police commission that was committed to change, so he did his homework. “Part of my hiring condition was to get some external staff to prep me for office,” McFee says. “A small team did between 60 and 70 interviews with officers and civilians, looking for any kind of change momentum. If an issue is mentioned 20 or more times, then you need immediate action. If it’s mentioned five times, then it’s a theme that needs study, if it’s mentioned once then it’s probably not something to be addressed in the first 90 days.” With data in hand, a team was chosen by the EPS membership to draft Vision 2020, a blueprint for transformational

hence, the need for an interagency hub model. “I arrived when a hub model was being implemented,” says Chief McFee. “Build the right team, put the right people together. If you’re not seeing improvements, then you probably don’t have the right people in the room.” Direct community engagement is also an essential component of EPS reform. One example is the Nîsohkamâkewin Council, so named for the Cree word meaning ‘the act of helping.’ A large Indigenous population, both within its urban boundary and surroundings, means Edmonton police, perhaps more acutely than in many other Canadian cities, must seek cooperative solutions for the inequities and barriers Indigenous peoples face. EPS is doing just that with the formation of this Indigenous advisory council. Community members are invited to apply for the council to develop systemic changes to policing and implement the best practices to address long-standing challenges.

It’s one thing go into a community and tell them top-down what they need to do. It’s another to stand by their side with the research and the data to drive sustainable change. success. Two key individuals at the civilian executive director and the inspector superintendent levels drove that change overseen by the deputy chief. “That got us the buy-in and renewed momentum with new information to continue what was well underway,” McFee says. “Simply put, there are only two things that matter. Reduce the intake into the system, and make sure every off-ramp works,” McFee explains. “What’s an off-ramp? Mental health, child welfare, addictions, and housing services, so what we focus on is to get the data and technology in place quickly to figure out exactly what we’re trying to fix.” A large portion of a police officer’s day is spent dealing with things that do not directly involve the justice system. Homelessness, addiction, and mental health issues are examples of challenges for which an officer is not fully equipped or trained to address; 22 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021

“We’ve heard many stories from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. So many inquests tell us that we need to be a lot better at sharing information,” McFee says.“This council brings direct representation from the Cree community to give us guidance and direction. I’m not forming another study, that’s been done plenty of times. We’ve committed to action.” The Nîsohkamâkewin Council is just one of 50 different community councils representing Edmonton’s diversity. Action means EPS is going into those communities to listen. It’s an aggressive agenda to fan out and meet with all 50 groups over the coming months to exchange knowledge. For example, a know-your-rights campaign is being developed to provide information to the Indigenous population, as well as to immigrant community groups whose members may have come from

countries where policing and individual rights and freedoms are viewed very differently than here in Canada. “It’s one thing go into a community and tell them top-down what they need to do,” McFee says. “It’s another to stand by their side with the research and the data to drive sustainable change.” This approach turns the model on its head. Every community listening session is followed by a de-briefing to determine what happens next. “We’ve already taken action with peer intervention training, community recruiting, etc. I want our recruits to spend time in vulnerable sectors like homeless shelters to learn the issues first-hand and understand those individuals and the trauma they’re facing.” Officers face danger every day that they go home to their families. Some days they don’t make it home. Calgary Sgt. Andrew Harnett pulled over an SUV on New Year's Eve and was hit and dragged when the vehicle took off. He died about an hour later, leaving behind a wife and unborn child. Two young men have been charged with first-degree murder. Harnett was a former military police officer with the Canadian Forces accustomed to random and unpredictable danger. Crime statistics warn officers of heightened danger and weapons possession in what are often racialized communities and neighbourhoods. This is crucial information to officer safety, but only training can prevent these statistics from turning to racial profiling. “I hope to bring civilians in to review officer training with us in an advisory capacity,” McFee says. “We’ve introduced a comprehensive social police training program, including such topics as Indigenous historical trauma training and many others. Bringing in civilians makes for ongoing and sustainable improvements and oversight.” Calls to defund the police rear up with every new incident and every new report. The defunding demand is more punitive that pragmatic, so McFee again emphasizes that policing must adopt a team approach to dealing with underlying societal issues or one-


on-one encounters that, for example, involve mental illness. While the idea of defunding police may send chills through the general population, Chief McFee stresses that “moving money around agencies won’t solve a darn thing. Social services are already funded 7-to-1 when compared with police funding.” Change must come from within police operations. EPS has already hired 10 social workers, and is aiming for 24/7 Police and Crisis teams and the placement of mental health crisis experts into its dispatch centre. “It all starts with that first call,” McFee says. That urgent first call requires an urgent response, but McFee believes policing is much more effective in the long term if it works to deter the second, the third, and the fourth call involving the same individual. That is where police influence versus police legal authority is most effective in a community context. “Community safety and wellbeing involves way more than policing, that’s where our influence can bring others to the table to get results and outcomes. That’s been the biggest shift in Edmonton,” McFee says. Innovative thinking at EPS has shifted $28 million to a bureau called Community Safety and Wellbeing, which comes with a Deputy Chief at the top. The Bureau is focused on partnering with the right agencies to get the right outcomes. In another nod to innovation, an EPS research excellence division informs a community solutions accelerator that works with private-sector partners to prototype and deploy solutions to reduce crime. The Edmonton Police Foundation has partnered with Telus, Motorola, ATB Financial, University of Alberta, and others to come up with answers. Here’s one challenge: tackle 9,600 liquor store robberies last year alone. Research revealed there were two reasons behind these thefts and robberies: supporting an individual’s habit, and illegal re-sale by gangs. EPS worked with one of Alberta’s largest liquor suppliers and put out a community challenge for a solution.

The winner out of 220 entries from around the world was the MacEwan University Social Innovation Institute based right in Edmonton. The MacEwan concept was twofold: identify the point of resale as the most effective point to deter thefts, resulting in lose of market, and; combine a highprofile awareness campaign, hidden tracking devices, and a whistle-blower cash prize for restaurant employees who tip off police about establishments buying stolen liquor. Challenges are being issued for creative and scientific solutions to a wide range of problems to reduce crime and intake into the justice system. A core tactic of advocacy is the use of extreme language. Everything is a crisis and an emergency. Defund! Repeat that over and over and over. A side effect of this tactic is the deliberate occultation of all things positive. Thousands of police officers go to work every day with the honourable intention to ensure public safety. Only the bad ones

re-integration program that works in the short term with officers involved in major incidents like shootings, fatalities, officer assaults, plus we go deeper with a longer-term component to prevent PTSD and other risks,” McFee says. “This is all going to be doubly important during COVID. It’s a strategy that has been adopted by 25 other police agencies across Canada, which is something we're pretty proud of.” Ottawa Police Service (OPS) is struggling with its own challenges. 15 officers are on paid suspension for criminal misconduct, there is an outside Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) investigation into multiple charges and allegations of sexual assault by OPS officers, and Ottawa Deputy Chief Uday Jaswal has been suspended with pay since March 21, 2020 after OCPC charged him with sexually harassing and assaulting a female civilian police employee. He faces a total of six charges from multiple complaints by OPS employees.

An EPS research excellence division informs a community solutions accelerator that works with private-sector partners to prototype and deploy solutions to reduce crime. make the news. My father was a police officer who took disability leave and early retirement due to a stress-related illness. About that same time, my oldest friend became an RCMP officer at the age of 19 and was assigned to northern BC, about as far away from home as a posting could place him. He suffers from extreme PTSD and has been hospitalized many times. Bottom line: policing is one of the most difficult professions in our society. So what about mental health support for officers themselves? “That’s a great question,” Chief McFee acknowledges.” EPS has bolstered its Employee Family Assistance Program with 10 staff members supporting the organization. 14 different programs include mental health awareness, critical stress management, suicide prevention, a chaplaincy, and a re-integration program for injured officers. “We also have an internationally recognized

Ottawa Police HQ sports a large banner facing the Queensway. It is a recruitment poster featuring two good-looking officers with pearly teeth: a Black male and a blonde female. All OPS recruitment branding would make the CBC diversity police proud. What is less front-facing is the OPS plan to address policing relative to racial inequity and diversity in the community it serves. Minority communities continue to express concern over multiple cases related to police misconduct. The Ottawa Police Services Board has paid over $20 million in damages, settlements and legal fees over the past decade to victims of police misconduct. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says that he is committed to police reform. Chief Dale McFee is writing the book on police reform in Canada. Watson, OPS, and the Police Board would be well served by reading it n 23 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021


police misconduct by Dan Donovan

RAPES AND LIES

— the cancerous misconduct at the Ottawa Police Service The Ottawa Police Service Board members are accessories to the rape culture at the OPS.

ttawa Life Magazine has been O writing about the serious problems in policing in Ottawa and

across Canada with police misconduct, police recruiting, police training and police oversight for over a decade. Over the past several weeks the CBCs Fifth Estate has been running a series of investigative shows titled Policing the Police about the disturbing preponderance of crimes committed by police officers without consequence in forces across Canada. One full episode is focused on the sexual assault, misogyny, and dysfunctional culture within the Ottawa Police Service (OPS). That show comes on the heels of several years of Ottawa Life Magazine and other investigative media reporting on the multiple cases of sexual assault and other crimes by OPS officers who are then protected by ‘the system’ at the expense of the victims and taxpayers. This criminal behaviour is the direct result of poor leadership and incompetent oversight. The criminal legal system in Ottawa is dysfunctional to its core.The police are 24 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021

corrupt, the Crown prosecutors have integrity, judgement and credibility issues and the decisions of local judges in multiple cases are causing the public to question whether justice depends on your race or position in society. Many residents are legitimately asking how a hand wringing judge could possibly conclude that it was a ‘reasonable use of force’ for an Ottawa policeman to punch an unarmed and frightened man with mental health issues, Abdi Abdirahman, in the head multiple times with non-regulation issue composite gloves that have the impact of brass knuckles? Abdirahman of course died from the beating. In court police lawyers claimed he died of a heart attack. It was a breathtakingly preposterous claim akin to saying that if someone was guillotined, they did not die from their head being cut off-they died from bleeding to death (of course caused by their head being cut off!). Justice Robert Kelly's statement that he was not convinced Montsion “used force that was a substantial departure from what a reasonable police officer would do, or that it went beyond what’s

justified in the Criminal Code” should shake the conscience of every citizen in Ontario.That a superior court judge somehow conclude that it was not only reasonable, but also acceptable for the police to violently punch a man in the head multiple times with vicious blows while wearing non-regulation gloves that have the same impact as brass knuckles is mind-blowing. That Justice Robert Kelly could not see the forest for the trees in the case is an understatement. His decision was a massive gut punch to the principle that “Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done.” His ruling was completely insane in a most Kafkaesque way as it represents ‘the law and legal system’ vetting out ‘justice’ to one of its own. Worse than the Kelly decision was that the crown did not appeal it. However, this should come as no surprise to the chummy chummy, yummy yummy relationship between the OPS and the Crown Attorney in Ottawa. The local crown prosecutor’s office has been in bed with the Ottawa Police for decades. Don’t worry about integrity PHOTO: MIKA BAUMEISTER


or redlines or rules having a say in the adjudication of matters with this crew. After all, it was the crown who agreed to the request for Montsion to avoid appearing before a bail judge when he was criminally charged in March 2017 with manslaughter, aggravated assault, and assault with a weapon in the July 2016 killing of Abdi.

who was spared jail time after admitting he went to great lengths to cover his tracks and hide from police after a 2015 hit-and-run that killed Ottawa cyclist Andy Nevin. On May 15, 2019 the victim’s father, Kerry Nevin said the crown in Ottawa and the justice system had failed his dead son.

“This whole dirty justice system has It was the crown who set a trial almost forgotten what their jobs are. My late a year and a half after the charges.They son was not accorded justice, rather apparently missed the class in law school he was victimized again,” the grieving that teaches the principle that “Justice father said. delayed is justice denied” as a legal maxim. This is the same crown The continuing swindle the office that ensured that Matthew Humphreys got to keep his job as OPSB is running to cover up assistant Crown attorney in Ottawa after he was charged with drunk the misconduct is worthy of a crime driving for crashing his car into the back of a construction vehicle on Metcalfe Street at 2:25 a.m. on family. It works like this: suspend Dec. 5, 2015 on his way home from the annual Christmas party for officers charged with crimes on full Ottawa’s Crown attorneys’ office that was held at . . . . the Ottawa pay; wait for the court hearings to Police Association headquarters on Catherine Street. (I won't even get be over; use taxpayers’ dollars to into how completely inappropriate it is for crown prosecutors to pay out the victims and their lawyers hold a party at the police union hangout). and other associated fees Humphreys’ blood-alcohol level and then give the offending officers was 200 mg/100 ml of blood, or more than double the legal limit of a slap on the wrist and put them 80 mg/100 ml. He was convicted of drunk driving and his sentence back on the job. included being banned from driving for a year, a $1,400 fine, a $420 surcharge, and he was ordered to After doing nothing, Deputy Crown install an ignition interlocking device Attorney Brian Holowka did what on his vehicle. many of his ilk tend to do and sent a disingenuous letter offering trite While Humphreys expressed remorse condolences to explain away his and took responsibility for his actions, incompetence and crass insensitivity he should have been terminated upon to the victim’s family. “I recognize the conviction in the interest of preserving devastating impact that this case has the integrity of the office of the crown had on you and your family, and that attorney. Instead, when asked if he the sentence imposed was far more would be fired, Brendan Crawley, a lenient than you had hoped for. I spokesman for the Ministry of the extend my condolences to you and all Attorney General, wrote in an email your family for the tragic loss that you that Humphreys’ employment status is have suffered,” Holowka wrote. “internal and confidential.” He is still an assistant Crown attorney in Ottawa. His comments run in the same vein The injustice of this came into sharp as the ‘our hearts and prayers are with focus again in 2019 when Ottawa you comments’ Americans get from crown prosecutors refused to appeal public and elected officials after every the sentencing of Deinsberg St-Hilaire, mass shooting. These are meaningless

and hollow words from a hollow man that only contribute to the continued erosion of trust in Canada’s unequal justice system . It is a very legitimate question to ask how it is that the crown prosecutors in Ottawa were able to play the system and protect one of their own who was charged and convicted of a serious criminal offence yet was able to keep his job and then some. Yet, when a citizen is killed a couple of years later by a drunk driver, this same crown office doesn't go to bat for the citizen whose son was killed. They go to bat for the killer. And justice for all, indeed! Then again this is the same crown office that orchestrated a please deal against a dangerous and abusive Ottawa cop and determined it was appropriate and somehow in the public interest to drop 27 of 32 charges against OPS Constable Eric Post against seven Ottawa women including violent sexual assault, assault, and forcible confinement. Post was convicted last month on the five plea deal charges and is awaiting sentencing. He was not immediately fired for cause by OPS Chief Peter Sloly and remains on the OPS payroll. The heart wrenching statement by Kerry Nevin that,” This whole dirty justice system has forgotten what their jobs are. My late son was not accorded justice, rather he was victimized again” serves as the perfect metaphor to describe the Ottawa Police Service and its rather temperamental chief and the Ottawa Police Services Board (OPSB). The OPSB members are Ottawa city councillor Chair the OPSB Diane Deans, Vice Chair Sandy Smallwood, Daljit Nirman, Dr. Beverly Johnson and Ottawa city councillors Rawlson King and Carol Anne Meehan (and their predecessors) have one of the worst records in Canada in dealing with police misconduct. That is not conjecture — it is fact. Look no further than the 20-million-plus taxpayers’ dollars the OPSB has doled out in the last five years for victim’s settlement and legal fees and related costs rather 25 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021


holding offending officers accountable for committing serious and often repugnant crimes. The continuing swindle the OPSB is running to cover up the misconduct is worthy of a crime family. It works like this: suspend officers charged with crimes on full pay; wait for the court hearings to be over; use taxpayers’ dollars to pay out the victims and their lawyers and other associated fees and then give the offending officers a slap on the wrist and put them back on the job. The collective gross incompetence of the OPSB can be measured by their inaction on multiple files where OPS cops have committed serious and at times violent crimes against both citizens and their fellow employees without consequences. The OPSB’s propensity to turn a blind eye to the victims of rape, sexual assault and misogyny have made them all accessories by default to the ongoing rape culture at the OPS. Despite having the power and resources to take action, they have behaved as meek cowards treating the brutalization of women as an internal human resource matter while allowing OPS Chief Peter Sloly to boss them around like children instead of telling him who’s the boss. As apologists and enablers for the bad police involved in misconduct, Deans and the other board members have stained the reputation and credibility of the good police on the force whose pleas for help, they ignored. Good police like OPS Constable Nicole Gorham, an 18-year veteran of the OPS who took early retirement due to PTSD caused by years of unbridled sexual harassment and misogyny by OPS officers. OPSB Chair Diane Deans has proven a farcical figure in her role as the whacky cheerleading apologist for the OPS. Incredibly, she continues to publicly praise Sloly and the OPS, despite the horrible record of misconduct. She blindly supports Sloly’s preponderance for secrecy and acts though she works for him. Deans has said nothing meaningful or substantive about the dozens of 26 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021

victims of the police misconduct or the OPS officer/employee who was allegedly raped by her superior. Both Deans and other board members have yet to explain how in the past five years the OPSB has paid out over $20 million in taxpayers’ dollars to cover damages for police misconduct. Over 75 OPS officers have been criminally charged in the past seven years. Not one has been fired with cause.

handling of the rampant misogyny in the force has been an unbridled disaster since he became Chief 18 months ago. After learning last March that OPS Deputy Chief Uday Jaswal was being charged with six counts of sexual misconduct it took Sloly and the OPSB ten days to remove him. Jaswal remains on suspension awaiting trial a year later with full pay and benefits. Following the Jaswal charges, 14 other female OPS employees came forward Between 17 and 20 Ottawa Police with complaints of sexual harassment, officers are currently on suspension assault and misogyny. Sloly’s response to the additional accusations by his own employees was startling. On May 25, 2020, he said that “unless On May 25, 2020, women outside the police service were impacted, the names of the he (Sloly) said that “unless officers found guilty of wrongdoing against female counterparts should women outside the police service not be identified because it's an internal matter”.

were impacted, the names of the officers found guilty

of wrongdoing against female counterparts should not be identified because it's an internal matter”. with full pay and benefits despite being charged with criminal misconduct.The exact number is not known because Deans and the rest of the OPSB believe this information should be kept from the public. OLM estimates based on salary information, leave, vacation pay, and benefits estimates the cost to taxpayers in the city of Ottawa is well over $4 million this year alone. There are now over 40 formal allegations against the OPS regarding misconduct, sexual abuse, and harassment. Due to misogynistic culture in the OPS, women who report their abusers are often met with silence or sexism, intimidation, and backlash. This systemic abuse has allowed police officers to get away with crimes against women, including rape, without having to fear punishment. Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly’s

Carleton criminologist and professor Darryl Davies, a recognized national expert on police misconduct told Ottawa Life Magazine that Sloly’s comments were “outrageous, arrogant and beyond ignorant”. Davies said that, ‘clearly, Sloly doesn’t get it and is part of the problem. Rape and sexual assault are not an internal human resource matter. These are criminal matters and when Sloly did not immediately call for an outside independent investigation, Deans and the OPSB should have ordered him to do so or called one in themselves. It seriously brings into question issues related to Sloly’s judgement, temperament and management and leadership abilities,” said Davies, who added, “worse it is proof of the utter incompetence of the OPSB”. Instead of acting, Deans and the OPSB took more of their stupid pills and followed Sloly's lead. Then reports surfaced of an OPS constable who claimed she had been raped by a senior constable in 2011. It was later disclosed that the allegations of rape were investigated and found to be credible. The OPSB and Sloly and the former OPS Chief Charles Bordeau all knew of the rape and took no action. To get justice the victim went outside the force and filed a human rights complaint and


legal action. Only after this, in August 2020 did Sloly finally suspended Const. Kevin Benloss on accusations that he allegedly raped a rookie colleague in 2011 Benloss has not been charged and remains suspended while receiving his full pay.

tainted. They allege that the OPS had “screened out complaints” that should have been addressed by Rubin Thomlinson. The firm was expected to receive the complaints, screen them in or out and then investigate. Chief Sloly has yet explain to the public why complaints by OPS employees that are to be sent to a Rubin Thomlinson are first being vetted or ‘reviewed’ by the OPS Executive, prior to commencing their ‘independent’ investigation,” The Ottawa Police Association (union) says, “We have been advised that the OPS

• On February 12, 2021-an unnamed Ottawa police officer was suspended with pay from duty after being charged with domestic assault, mischief, and careless storage of a firearm. The OPS and OPSB refuse to release the officer’s name in order ‘to protect’ the victim’s identity. In a statement, the Ottawa Police Service says it, “takes the issue of violence against women very seriously.”

Then it was learned that another OPS officer named Peter Vanderzander, a cop a spotless 20-year record had run into the rath of both OPS deputy Chief Jaswal and Chief Peter Sloly prior to • On January 14,2021, OPS Const. Jaswal being charged. Vanderzander Eric Post pleaded guilty to four spoke to Jaswal who was a superior charges of assault and one charge and asked him to stop sexually of uttering threats. Post was initially harassing his spouse, who is also an charged with 32 criminal offences Both Deans and other OPS officer. When Jaswal did not involving seven women, including stop,Vanderzander then confronted sexual assault, forcible confinement, board members have yet to explain and uttering threats. He pleaded Sloly, Jaswal and other senior staff about the deplorable behaviour guilty to assaulting four women he how in the past five years towards his wife, demanding it stop. met online, as well as threatening to He alleges that Sloly’s response dispose of one woman's body. Post was to professionally demean him, the OPSB has paid out over told her that if she ever cheated on changing his shifts and docking his him, he could dump her body in the pay along with making him report $20 million in taxpayers’ dollars water and get away with it because to Jaswal.Vanderzander then filed a he's a police officer.Another woman formal complaint against Sloly and to cover damages for police said Post grabbed her by the neck the OPS with the Ontario Civilian and slapped her face when she tried Police Commission (OCPC). The misconduct. Over 75 OPS officers to leave following an argument and OCPC are still investigating the that when she went to strike back, complaint. Vanderzander has the have been criminally charged Post told her she’d be assaulting a full support of his spouse, OPS police officer. Constable Jennifer Vanderzander in the past seven years. Not one and many of his OPS colleagues. Two of the assault charges involved has been fired with cause. Post trying to prevent women from In response to the rape and sexual leaving. In those cases, he grabbed misconduct allegations, OPS Chief the women by their wrists. The Sloly and the OPSB hired a consultant Executive has, in fact, screened out fourth assault occurred when Post to undertake an internal review. In complaints and investigations are not grabbed a woman by her neck and December 2020, media reporting occurring. The union has already filed chin and told her he “did not know indicated that the consultation with a grievance on the matter. “If true, it whether he wanted to choke her or police employees had determined makes a mockery of the credibility, kiss her.” One of the victims said she that most OPS employees didn’t trust independence and veracity of the was worried about filing a complaint the Ottawa Police to handle its own work of Rubin Thomlinson. When the with the Ottawa police after a two-year complaints and asked specifically for program was launched in December relationship ended with Post because a third party to be used. The OPSB the OSP claimed the investigator “will she feared he “would make her life, and then hired Janice Rubin and Rubin independently investigate all claims, the lives of those around her, hell.” Thomlinson LLP for a six-month maintaining confidentiality of parties” period to independently examine and that “information will only be The original charges against Post claims of sexual assault and sexual disclosed where necessary for the included sexual assault and pointing harassment within the police force. purposes of managing or investigating a firearm against the same woman. In the complaint, or as required by law.” October 2018, Post was released on Within a short period Rubin bail conditions including house arrest Thomlinson had received 21 inquiries In the meantime, the carnage continues. and a ban from online dating sites. The and 14 complaints. However, the These are just some of the OPS officers Crown and defence later brokered a Ottawa Police Association complained who have been charged with serious plea deal. Despite several complaints that Chief Peter Sloly and OPS senior crimes and are suspended with full pay being made against Post through the management had interfered in that and benefits as they await trial. There OPS professional standards section independent process, rendering it are too many cases to print: during his 18 years with the service, he 27 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021


was never formally disciplined by the Ottawa Police. After his conviction, he was not immediately fired with cause and is still receiving full pay as he awaits sentencing. • In July 2020, Constable Carl Keenan was convicted for a particularly brutal assault that occurred in December 2017 to his then girlfriend. He had been suspended with full pay by the Ottawa Police Service since the charge in 2017. He remains an officer with the OPS. • In 2020, OPS Constable Jesse Hewitt is charged with nine counts of misconduct for taking videos of vulnerable women. • In 2020, OPS Constable Yourick Brisebois-is charged with assault with a weapon and uttering threats. • OPS Staff Sergeant Will Hinterberger is awaiting trial on 21 charges including sexual assault and forcible confinement. • May 15, 2019, an Ottawa Police officer was charged by the OPP with assault and uttering death threats in relation to an alleged domestic incident. The OPSB and OPS Police did not release the man’s name in order ‘to protect’ the victim’s identity. The Ottawa Police Service Professional Standards Section is conducting its own investigation. It is not known if he is back on patrol or why the so-called investigation into the matter is taking so long. Despite this shameful debacle, Deans and OPSB brain trust approved Sloly’s request for an additional $13.2 million to hire 31 more police officers in 2021 giving them the OPS a $332.5-million net operating budget in total. Sloly claimed he required the additional funds so he could meet OPS operational commitments. Neither Diane Deans nor any OPSB members thought to tell Sloly they would reject the request until he dealt with the 20 suspended OPS officers who are sitting at home getting fully paid to watch Netflix as they await trial. 28 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021

Not one of the OPSB members or city councillors has called for a fully independent audit of the OPS to ascertain how a city department can pay out over $20 million in victims’ settlements and related costs over just a few short years to cover up criminal police misconduct.

interview with Graham Richardson after the verdict that Abdi Abdirahman had died of a heart attack. He refused to terminate Constable Daniel Montsion and has instead signaled that Constable Daniel Montsion will be returning to full duties as an OPS officer.

Paradoxically while completely denying any police responsibility for Abdi’s brutal beating death, Sloly and the OPSB then signed off on a settlement to the Abdi family in reportedly excess of $1 million The OPSB’s propensity to turn a taxpayers’ money, plus their legal fees. Both he and the OPSB blind eye to the victims of rape, have refused to disclose the full settlement amount to the public, sexual assault and misogyny have saying it was confidential. On the same day, the OPSB announced the made them all accessories by settlement with the Abdi family, the OPS presented a report to the default to the ongoing rape culture OPSB on how it would work with the public to develop a strategy, at the OPS . . . they have behaved including consulting with Black, Indigenous, LGBTQ+, and mental as meek cowards treating the health advocacy groups. Ironically, it was Deans herself who constantly and very harshly criticized

brutalization of women as an

The report was widely criticized by community members and mental internal human resource matter. health professionals who cited the high lack of trust between the public and police after numerous cases where police have used Mayor Jim Watson, city staff and other excessive force in dealing with people councillors over a lack of transparency with mental health issues. Most groups on the light rail transit file. Since being declined to participate in the so-called appointed Chair of the OPSB her guiding council that would inform the preponderance for secrecy and not strategy. disclosing information to the public or hiding behind convenient rules Sloly’s response was to spin another created by her fellow politicians and yarn claiming that right now certain police management to not disclose community organizations “did not information would make her a star KGB have the time, the capacity or the agent. Her hypocrisy is only trumped resources” to sit on the guiding by her vacuous behaviour and lack of council. That was a blatant lie. The understanding of her role as chair of truth is that is that resources are scarce the OPSB. Deans and the OPSB all for these groups because the money seem to think they work for Chief they could have used was sucked up Sloly — and this along speaks volumes by the OPS to pay for 20 discredited about their utter incompetence. They and criminally charged officers to sit do not seem to ‘get’ that he reports to at home and collect full pay while them. Sloly then demanded and got another $13.5 million from taxpayers to For his part, OPS Chief Peter Sloly has hire 31 additional officers to cover failed to gain any traction or trust for the the workload. That is in addition to OPS in the minority community who the Abdi settlement and multiple feel he betrayed them with his conduct other victims’ settlements in the past over the Abdi case. He had the temerity two years. Those alone total almost to spin the yarn in a CJOH news continued >> page 30


around town by Grace Giesbrecht

Ottawa Public Library

supporting the community through the pandemic

he Ottawa Public Library’s (OPL) T many services and its importance to the local community has never

been higher since the onset of the coronavirus last year. The OPL has continued to adapt and serve families and other clients during the pandemic by reaching out to them using a combination of adapted traditional services and innovative new ones. While eBooks and audiobooks are an important part of this, OPL has used creative and outside-the-box thinking to ensure as many citizens as possible can access their services. The OPL has become an important lifeline in the national capital for tens of thousands of people who have used their books and other online products and offerings to cope as they navigate their way through the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of the OPL in the community can be measured in multiple ways. On January 12th, they announced that they had reached a record-breaking 1.8 million digital book checkouts in 2020. In a year with building closures, storefront shutdowns and lockdowns and limited recreational activities in public spaces due to COVID-19, OPL services including those related to eBooks and audiobooks have skyrocketed in popularity. E-Books and audiobooks have been available at OPL for several years

through online portals like Overdrive and its companion reading app, Libby, which provide 24/7 virtual access to the library’s collection. “The Ottawa Public Library is pleased to be part of the Million Checkout Club as it shows how active our customers are in using digital formats for reading – and how if anything, customers have valued access to library services more during the COVID pandemic,” said Danielle McDonald, CEO of Ottawa Public Library. “It's been a challenging year, but we have been able to provide the most sought-after titles for anyone in Ottawa to download and enjoy.”

This record-breaking growth is not limited to Ottawa. OPL is one of 102 public library systems worldwide that surpassed one million checkouts. OPL’s digital circulation places it in the top 40 public library systems worldwide. E-books and audiobooks are not the only way OPL has supported the community through the pandemic. New databases and online content on topics from genealogy to used cars to

knitting instructional videos, among many others, have been added for library members to use free of charge. Instructional videos following the Ontario public school curriculum are also available for students studying at home. OPL programming that previously took place in person has pivoted to virtual programming.Attendance has increased 3x compared to in-person programs, and recordings of the sessions posted to YouTube or Facebook afterwards have gained another 50,000 views. Such programming is vital during a pandemic, Catherine Seaman, OPL’s Division Manager of Customer Experience, said. “We’re able to offer programming for people who can’t, or don’t want to, leave their homes.” Virtual programming for older adults at higher risk for COVID-19 has been particularly popular. After the pandemic, according to Seaman, the library will shift to a hybrid model that combines virtual programming with in-person programming. Though there are major benefits to real-world programs as an opportunity for people to get together, the “audience we can reach is so much wider by offering virtual programming.” In-person programs are also important continued >> page 30 29 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021


Ottawa Police Service >> from page 28

Ottawa Public Library >> from page 29

$20 million that could have gone toward mental health needs in the city. Instead, it went to a bloated, unaccountable, cancerous OPS.

misconduct. The investigation later determined that the person who sent it was an Indigenous OPS officer of Algonquin heritage.

In the 2017 a report of the Independent Police Oversight Review by Justice Michael Tulloch made several important recommendations that have been completely ignored by the Ford government. One of them was that an independent office for adjudicating and prosecuting police should be established in the province to ensure that police charged with crimes would be prosecuted without favour or bias.

However, when a gay man with aids was improperly and wrongly arrested by an OPS officer who then redacted and doctored evidence and changed witness statement breaking numerous rules of evidence under the Police Services Act, Sloly indicated to Ottawa Life Magazine that he could care less about it. Worse, after public outcry about that case, Sloly handed in a factually wrong and false report to the OPSB that cleared his officers in the incident.

The system in place now is riddled with collegiality and the case of the women who were assaulted by Constable Post is a classic example of why the present system does not work. In his report Tulloch recommended establishing a separate office for prosecuting and adjudicating police cases in the province. This has not happened. Even the internal system of discipline used by police operates in secret and is chaired by a former police officer. The whole process remains a tragic farce when it comes to holding police accountable. The real losers are their victims. Chief Peter Sloly has been on the job for 18 months. He was passed over for the top job previously in both Ottawa and Toronto and left policing after losing the top spot in Toronto in 2015. He returned as OPS Chief in 2019. He was brought in from Toronto and tends to view everything through a race lens, which is understandable given that he spent his entire police career in Toronto which has serious racial injustice issues. However, his arrogance and temperament problems became apparent early on in Ottawa. Within months of arriving, he launched an internal investigation costing hundreds of thousands of dollars because he was upset about an offensive racist meme apparently directed at him that was sent out by an OPS employee. Each person on the meme was a person of colour who had been involved in police criminal 30 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021

The victim in the case, Rodney Mockler is now in the process of taking the OPS to court in a civil suit. Sadly, Chief Sloly’s preponderance for bending the truth and his temperament issues are now affecting his credibility in the community. Despite the rapes and the sexual assaults and the misogyny the killing of Adbi Abdirahman, Ottawa City Councilors and OPSB members Diane Deans, Carol Anne Meehan and Rawlson King and their counterparts continue to do nothing but make excuses for the OPS. They are in some ways as bad as the police who commit these crimes because they can do something about it, and they remain timid and cowardly in words and deeds. In some cases, they just project stupidity. In January, city councillor and OPSB Carol Anne Meehan got her foghorn out and demanded action because she wanted residents of Ottawa charged for not wearing masks on city ice rinks or for playing shinny outdoors during the COVID-19 lockdown. Yet we hear not a peep from her or Deans or Rawlson when their own city employees are being raped or assaulted by the very police they oversee. That alone speaks volumes about their twisted value system and priorities and why the problem of police misconduct in Ottawa is not going away anytime soon n

OPL programming that previously took place in person has pivoted to virtual programming. Attendance has increased 3x compared to in-person programs. because there are accessibility barriers to accessing online content that do not exist in person: not everyone has the smartphone or computer required to attend. This technology barrier emerged early in the pandemic, in library programming and in many other important arenas. OPL has been working to help people solve these problems. “We recognized that was a potentially huge need in a community” Seaman said. When virtual presence became a necessity, not only for library services, but attend school, apply for jobs, and even appear in court, access to technology became a major problem for vulnerable communities. To help people facing this struggle, OPL partnered with organizations that worked closely with vulnerable populations in Ottawa and provided Chromebooks and internet hotspots to members of a community that otherwise would not have access to it. OPL also eliminated late fees as of January first in a bid to make library services as accessible as possible. “It’s a huge move to making our library services equitable to everyone in the community,” Seaman said, and the best move the library could make, especially during a pandemic, in order “to be as socially equitable as we could.” n biblioottawalibrary.ca


op-ed by Helen Long

Let’s remember what C-7 is really about ability to distinguish myth from Thashefactbecome around Bill C-7 and its scope complicated by an array of

messages creating confusion, as well as the current medical assistance in dying (MAID) legislation and practice. The federal government tabled Bill C-7 in response to a landmark court ruling in Quebec (Truchon) in 2019 that pointed out the inequity in Canada’s 2016 law on MAID. The legislation proposes broadening the law to include those whose death is not "reasonably foreseeable” and allows for waiver of final consent. The former amendment addresses Truchon to include people who suffer intolerably but whose death is not imminent. It’s about giving access and autonomy to Canadians who want to end intolerable pain and suffering and want a dignified death. There is a concern that the removal of the reasonably foreseeable criterion singles out and devalues the lives of people with disabilities. The proposed removal of this criterion does not remove the requirement that a person must have a grievous and irremediable medical condition meeting all of the following criteria: • The person has a serious and incurable illness, disease, or disability • The person must be in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability • The person has enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable to them and that cannot

be relieved under conditions that they consider acceptable and, It does not remove the requirement that a person make a voluntary request for medical assistance in dying that is not the result of outside pressure or influence. To be clear, we agree that there needs to be an increase in supports for people with disabilities, including those targeted at enhancing income and social supports, reducing waiting lists for housing, specialist care, day programs and assistive devices, and assisting with the navigation of a complex and confusing healthcare system. However, removal of the reasonably foreseeable eligibility criteria will expand the constitutional right to MAID to people who are suffering intolerably but who are not near death. Another alarming misconception about the changes to Bill C-7 is that by removing the 10-day reflection period a person can request and access MAID in a day. The lived experiences of clinicians, caregivers and family members over the last four years have made clear that forcing someone who has already been assessed and approved for MAID to wait an additional ten days only serves to prolong suffering. It should be noted that in rare cases the procedure may be scheduled to occur in a day where a patient is at risk of death or loss of capacity, and they have already been assessed and approved for MAID. Thankfully, Bill C-7 is proposing to waive the requirement for final consent should a person lose capacity which will reduce the stress associated with

end-of-life decisions and care. In a recent testimony to the Senate strife with misinformation, a physician based out of Atlanta, Georgia compared the procedure and drugs used for executions by lethal injection in the U.S. criminal system to those used in medically assisted deaths here in Canada. He referred to a drug called Phenobarbitol that could result in a death akin to drowning. This is an alarming piece of information for Canadians to read as we vigorously debate MAID in our country. How frustrating to learn that this drug is not used in Canadian MAID provisions and his testimony was unnecessarily shocking. There are Canadians, today, who are suffering with intolerable pain. They are people who have exhausted all treatments, medications and options and while they would prefer to be healthy and living their lives, they are not. They would like to take control once last time and end their lives safely and with dignity. This is what Bill C-7 is trying to achieve. “My message to elected and appointed representatives is this: You must remember that the people waiting for Bill C-7 to pass are intelligent, thoughtful people who are suffering a life worse than death.We call for mercy because suicide is not a merciful option. The passing of Bill C-7 would be the most compassionate and thoughtful gift that could be provided to those of us who are suffering.” Janet Hopkins n Helen Long is the CEO of Dying With Dignity Canada 31 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021


students first series by Michael Bussière

Ottawa Catholic Teacher Gabriel Leury BRINGS A LOVE OF THE ARTS TO THE CLASSROOM abriel Leury knows how to G captivate a classroom and an audience. He’s been with the Ottawa

Catholic School Board since 2005, and is a teacher at Holy Trinity Catholic School in Kanata where he instructs primarily as a music and band specialist at the Grade 7-8 level. Gabriel teaches what is known at the Grade 7-8 level as exploratory studies, in which students spend one-third of the academic year each on music, drama, and visual arts. This prepares them for a Grade 9 selection in at least one of these creative disciplines and an eventual graduating high school requirement in the arts. Sadly, intermediate music programs have been suspended during COVID measures, but Gabriel perseveres, having adeptly switched to teaching drama, visual art, and social studies. It’s taken some ingenuity, especially where drama is concerned. “The students are organized in a way that I go from room to room, we work around the desks and we make sure not to mingle,” Gabriel describes. “Imagine doing mime and tableau work wearing masks!” Students are also led through exercises in “Reader’s theatre,” which is a great example of how fine arts studies reinforce learning in other disciplines. Reader’s theatre helps develop reading fluency. Students read parts in scripts, without the need to memorize text for a performance. They need only to reread aloud several times to improve their language fluency.The best reader's theatre scripts include plenty of dialogue and encourage communications skills. Gabriel’s love of the classroom is linked to his love of performance. “I love musical theatre, and have been music director for many shows in schools and in the community. I’ve also played electric bass in many of 32 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021

They (my students) are all good teens, and they give me so much faith in our youth. They make me so proud to be an Ottawa Catholic Teacher. the musical theatre orchestras,” he says, stressing that he’d always wanted to be a teacher, and had many high school teachers who supported that ambition by helping him along the way to his own classroom. The exploratory nature of the fine arts means his classroom is a place “where students feel safe to take academic and artistic risks, try something new and learn something new, all the while helping others experience the same,” Gabriel believes. “Hopefully my students understand that learning is a journey and a lifelong endeavour. Nothing can happen overnight!” It’s a journey he personally and professionally shares. “I love learning, and am currently taking courses through Queen’s University.

My most recent academic pursuit is called Issues in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Education. It’s helping me become a better teacher and helping me make education more accessible for more of my students.” That dedication to diversity and inclusion goes beyond Gabriel’s classroom. He’s served as a volunteer with a program called Friends of the Family offered by The Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization. The OCISO matches up existing groups of friends with, for example, Syrian refugee families who have indicated they would like to practice English and meet new people while learning about all Ottawa has to offer. “It was a wonderful experience as my family had three children who were going to elementary and high school,” Gabriel recalls, “and so it was awesome seeing discovery through their eyes. Such unique points of view!” “When my students are engaged, I feel that I’ve reached them,” Gabriel says. “Participating in discussions, helping others, going over and above in a task, asking about ways to think outside the box, all tell me they are learning. That’s how I work to guide them towards becoming fine adults.” Gabriel believes he is working with a receptive audience. “They are all good teens, and they give me so much faith in our youth. They make me so proud to be an Ottawa Catholic Teacher.”n Gabriel Leury is an active member of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association.


students first series by Grace Giesbrecht

Explore the world of work

WHILE IN HIGH SCHOOL WITH SHSM eeking opportunity and work S experience in the art sector, eighteen-year-old Marshal Alfonso applied for an Arts & Culture Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) co-op program. In his final year of high school, Alfonso started at DeSerres, a Canadian art supply store. The experience “gave me the chance to do things and meet people that I otherwise would have never done or met,” Alfonso said. Alfonso is not the only student seeking new opportunities to develop skills and explore careers while still in high school. The SHSM program provides these opportunities throughout the city. The SHSM is a unique program offered by the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) designed to help high school students explore and focus on career paths based on their interests. There are 45 SHSM programs offered across the 25 secondary schools in the OCDSB. All programs require students to engage in coops giving them an opportunity to “test drive” their sector of interest and offering authentic, realworld experiences. Other experiences inlcude workshops led by professionals in specific industries, like radio or physiotherapy. High school can be a challenging journey for any student. Biology or physics may not be your passion, especially if you want to be a graphic designer, welder, or chef. However, the SHSM program gives students the option to customize their high school PHOTOS: COURTESY MARSHAL ALFONSO

learning according to their real interests and plans. The co-op program places students in environments where they can develop skills and connections that will help them get ahead in their chosen field. Most importantly, participation in SHSM sets them up for their future — whether that is a university program, a farm, an apprenticeship, a college trades program, or whatever path they choose.

The SHSM program offers placements scattered throughout the world of work, from agriculture to performing arts to business to health and almost anything in between. There are multiple opportunities to obtain industry recognized certifications depending on the program or co-op that the student attends. This can be particularly useful in trade-oriented fields. There are also multiple innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship opportunities. Alfonso recognized the mismatch between his interests in the arts and his high school experience early. After hearing countless times that a career in the art world is too competitive, not possible, or simply not a real job, he applied for the Arts & Culture SHSM program to see for himself. In his placement at DeSerres’ St. Laurent location, he found a new

sense of belonging and learned about opportunities on both the creative and practical business sides of the art industry. “There are real opportunities and real ways to be an artist and be happy, you just have to look for them.” Alfonso said.“If you’re happy doing what you're doing, then you’re successful." The SHSM program offers placements scattered throughout the world of work, from agriculture to performing arts to business to health and almost anything in between. Students who graduate with SHSM receive an Ontario Secondary School Diploma with a “specialist” designation that includes an embossed SHSM seal, a SHSM record documenting their achievement and a formal recognition on their Ontario Student Transcript. Knowing more of the career options available in the art world through his SHSM placement has given Alfonso new perspectives and experiences to leverage in his future. “I’m so grateful for the experience I’ve been given. I plan on using my experiences from that to hopefully find a way into college.” A full list of programs offered through SHSM is available on their website. Students who wish to enroll in a SHSM program must apply in their Grade 10 year and should contact their school’s guidance counsellor for more information n OCDSB.CA/SHSM 33 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021


students first series by John Scott Cowan

Free speech and academic freedom in universities:

CHALLENGES AND A SOLUTION

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ur universities are designed and funded to be more than institutions for teaching. They have long served as the incubators and testing grounds for

ideas. But now, in much of the developed world, the universities are experiencing some challenges in maintaining the practices of free speech, open debate and academic freedom, all of which are needed to allow ideas to be tested in the crucible of experimentation, peer review, open discourse and reconfirmation. And some of the controversy over what can and cannot be said on campus these days is due to the confusion between and conflation of two different concepts: free speech and academic freedom. They are not the same at all. Free speech is not confined to the universities, but rather is the notion, throughout a free society, that the government cannot punish you for speaking your mind. Exceptions to this rule are very narrow, largely prohibiting speech which is an incitement to physical harm of others or damage to their property. Free speech, however, is not without consequences for the speaker. You can be fired for its exercise if your employer feels that a loyalty line has been crossed, and you certainly may risk being sued, shunned, and/or insulted or otherwise disadvantaged from its exercise. But that is as it may be. You cannot be jailed for it. The consequences of free speech for the speaker, if any, are all in the civil or social domain. 34 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021

Parenthetically, the idea that the exercise of free speech may have consequences for the speaker was always based on the notion that the speaker was identifiable. There never was the concept of free

Some of the controversy over what can and cannot be said on campus these days is due to the confusion between and conflation of two different concepts: free speech and academic freedom. They are not the same at all.

speech while wearing a disguise, which is why we struggle so to deal with many of the platforms on the internet which purport to be providing for free speech, but which are really just vehicles for intimidation, since they are indeed amplified speech with no identifiable originating speaker. Academic freedom is different, in that it applies only to scholars employed by institutions of learning, and does bar the employer from taking action against its employed faculty members for exercising it. To be fair, the universities of North America have not always been entirely receptive to and protective of the broadest reasonable range of discourse. Academic freedom was actually institutionalized quite late. Its formalisms derive from the AAC/ AAUP declaration of 1940, which is the originating root of all academic freedom policies in universities in both the USA and Canada. In Canada, the principles of that declaration underlay the reactions to the cases of Frank Underhill (1941) and Harry Crowe (1958), which are the most cited Canadian early cases. Academic freedom is the freedom to research, publish, and speak publicly in one’s area of expertise without institutional constraint or sanction, and hence goes


further than free speech, but only for a limited group of people. It also implies its twin, academic responsibility, which includes an obligation to eschew provable falsehoods, to use reasoned arguments and actual data, and to avoid purporting to speak for the institution unless delegated to do so. There is quite a bit of useful jurisprudence about academic freedom in the US, and much of it derives from the Pickering case and its sequelae (Pickering vs Board of Education 391 US 563 (1968) SC). Essentially, the Pickering Test means that academic freedom can even be used to protect speech which does some harm, provided that the matter being spoken of is a matter of public interest. In this it differs from ordinary free speech, which, if it does harm can readily be a cause of action at law. Since the inception of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Canada, it is reasonably easy to argue for the applicability this sort of US precedent in Canadian courts, but a number of high-profile post-WWII academic freedom cases in Canada had already laid a solid groundwork. In the three generations since academic freedom became a touchstone value of the North American Universities, it has caused those institutions to become the clear world leaders in the generation of new knowledge. A cursory look at the distribution of Nobel Prizes would be a pretty convincing indicator. But today academic freedom and open debate are experiencing some nontrivial setbacks, though mostly not in the experimental disciplines. The targets in the cross-hairs are largely in the encyclopedic disciplines. Debate in the humanities and social sciences is becoming more and more constrained by a new orthodoxy which has developed an interesting technique for protecting itself from challenge. It is the technique and culture of the taking of offence, or perhaps the feigning of the taking of offence, at the expression of views different from one’s own. And indeed, sometimes the taking of offence extends to claiming that the “offending” speech is itself violence. This hugely trivializes real violence.

We now see speakers who are scholars being shouted down for holding to “unapproved” views, or being prevented from speaking on campuses because university administrators, fearing repercussions, impose vast “extra security” costs on the entity wishing to invite the speaker, and therefore using economic clout to prevent such discourse.

Academic freedom is the freedom to research, publish, and speak publicly in one’s area of expertise without institutional constraint or sanction, and hence goes further than free speech, but only for a limited group of people.

It was not always thus. I fondly recall my time as an undergraduate and graduate student at the University of Toronto in the 1960’s. A debate was arranged in Convocation Hall between Wm F. Buckley Jr. and David Lewis. For those who don’t recall, David Lewis was Canada’s leading socialist, a former Rhodes Scholar and former head of the Oxford Debating Union, and later the leader of the social democratic party he had helped to found, the New Democratic Party. I was a Lewis fan, and he was a personal friend and mentor as well, and Buckley was considered by most Canadians to be extraordinarily far to the right. That being said, the audience was entirely respectful and it was a brilliant debate between the two best debating stars of their generation. Though agreeing with most of what Lewis said, my take on the event was that Buckley won the debate on points. It was a damned good lesson for me. Listen to the other side. Even in your disagreement you will likely learn something. Another interesting event during that time was the mass teach-in held by the University of Toronto and

York University at Varsity Arena in Toronto in the fall of 1965. The teachin movement had begun in the US as an intellectual activity of the antiwar movement opposing the Vietnam War. But despite the fact that all the organizers were anti-war, the Toronto organizing committee opted for a non-partisan exchange of expert views. Before an audience of up to 6,000, the speakers all got a respectful hearing. The long roster of speakers was blueribbon all the way. We were charmed, of course, by Chester Ronning, the very progressive, very articulate Canadian ex-diplomat and China expert, who had been born in China. But we listened attentively as well to the “realist” Polish-American strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski, who, despite his brilliant career in US foreign policy, was a hawk on the subject of the Vietnam War, and on that score ended up on the wrong side of history. Nobody was shouted down. But today that would not happen. And it is not only voices of the hard right which are shouted down, chased off and stigmatized. Even social scientists near the center who may have adopted an intentionally strident style are routinely given the same treatment. Dr. Jordan Peterson is the current obvious example of this. Similarly, pro-Israel speakers or even just Israeli visiting scholars also often get the bum’s rush, and Jewish student organizations get dropped from lists of studentgovernment-approved university clubs. And with the abortion debate, especially in the US, it is even more chaotic, with some venues driving out speakers advocating access to abortion and others driving out speakers favoring bans on abortion. Somehow, it appears that our institutions of higher learning have become terrified of the injury that their students and researchers may suffer if they accidentally hear the voices of “the other”, whatever that other may be at any given moment. But appearances may mislead. For those leading the movements and demonstrations which suppress speech, they do so not out of fear but as a calculated tactic in an ideological battle. They have no stake in free speech, academic freedom or open debate.They 35 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021


are committed campaigners, happy warriors with certainty in their hearts and confident in their righteousness. In their minds, the suppression of the offending speech is their duty. Tomas de Torquemada would be proud of them. This determined attempt by committed campaigners to silence those who disagree with them by disruptive protest does not make the political and social opinions of the protesters automatically wrong. Indeed, in some cases the political and social views of the protesters are quite progressive and have much to commend them. But their methods and tactics are completely wrong, and threaten to destroy the universities. Why do the universities themselves not resist more forcefully the current popular tactics of suppression of speech? The short answer to that question is failure of administrative courage when faced with disruptors in the academy. There are good cultural reasons why this occurs with frightening regularity. Some of the factors which tend to trap university senior administrators into inaction are dealt with in a report I wrote in 1994, and which remains relevant. In that year I was commissioned by Concordia University to conduct an inquiry into Concordia’s long-term handling of Dr. Valery Fabrikant in the 13 years before he committed the murder of four colleagues. The report is widely available (just enter “Lessons from the Fabrikant File” into your browser). I conducted the inquiry and wrote the report in the months after Fabrikant’s conviction for the murders, but it focused on the problems the institution experienced with him in the many years leading up to those events. In retrospect, it is a case study in how very accomplished good people with good values can fail to appropriately constrain disruptors in the academy. That report touches upon one of the two key factors which hampers decisive action by senior university administrators, and that is that most of them have little training to administer. They frequently were elevated into 36 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021

their administrative roles for being fine scholars and teachers, and the abovementioned report does set out why they sometimes do not acquire the skills, conditioning and ethos that they will need in their administrative roles. Yes, despite their intelligence, integrity and good intentions, senior university administrators can sometimes look like the laboratory exercise for teaching the Peter Principle. No surprise, then, that many hesitate when faced with some chaos on campus.

from campuses those who challenge rights to speech, open debate and academic freedom. I personally barred plenty of folk who were disruptive or intimidating from the three universities where I had that authority, and not only kept my job, but found that some of the disruptors then adopted more fitting tactics as a result and, when I allowed them to return, they became markedly better members of the academic community. On rare occasions they even thanked me for steering them in a better direction.

Shouting down or physically intimidating or attacking scholars in order to prevent them from speaking in any venue is bad enough. On a university campus, it is analogous to the burning of books.

I do understand, however, that even the best university leaders have some concern that if they show an evenhanded resolve to maintain order on campuses while allowing the maximum expression of views to the extent permitted by law, their boards may not back them up. A good plan might be to talk through that possibility with the governing board before any incident has occurred, so that there is an understood consensus on a suitable response. And then boards must give the university leaders some maneuvering room, rather than having a plan of action that is too rigid and constrained.

The second key factor is, regrettably, how university boards have been selecting university leaders of late. I’ve spent much of my career amongst university presidents and principals, and, while the group is blessed with plenty of extraordinary people, there has been a recent trend to select folk who have never offended or annoyed anyone. Interestingly, people fitting that description may either be highly articulate extraordinary peacemakers blessed with powers of persuasion, or folk who are uncourageous and determined to do nothing controversial. One always hopes to appoint people from the first bin, but the supply is limited, and sometimes folk from the second bin are selected. Hence today a non-trivial fraction of such senior administrative posts go to folk who are determined to please everyone. It can’t be done. A determination to respect everyone would go further. And that sort of determination would lead to university senior officers who would have no regrets about barring

Furthermore, if university leaders as a group, at the national or provincial/ state level, resolved collectively to act similarly on such matters, so as to create a common front, boards would be more inclined to back them to the hilt, because for explanation they could properly attest that they were merely adhering to a widespread sectoral policy. Such collective reinforcement could help to restore administrative courage. Shouting down or physically intimidating or attacking scholars in order to prevent them from speaking in any venue is bad enough. On a university campus, it is analogous to the burning of books that was a signature act of the Third Reich and of other intolerable regimes. Any university administration that thinks this is the new normal has lost its soul, and in the process has lost any reasonable claim to support from the public purse n

John Scott Cowan is Principal Emeritus, The Royal Military College of Canada


students first series by Michael Bussière

Ottawa Catholic Teacher Antoinette Nehme CHAMPIONS DEMOCRACY AND MULTICULTURALISM

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ntoinette Nehme is an elementary French Teacher at St. Bernard School of the Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) in Gloucester. She brings an amazing personal story to her classroom. Antoinette was born in the Maronite Catholic village of Kahale, located 13 kms up in the mountains overlooking Beirut, Lebanon and beyond to the Asian coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Her family still operates the farm where she was raised with her five sisters and one brother amidst olive groves, fruits, vegetables, and chickens. Antoinette still expresses a deep connection to this ancient land that has remained within her ever since she left her war-torn home for Canada in 1991. When I visited my family in 1995 post-war Lebanon, the country was riddled with checkpoints, and daily life was upside-down. For Antoinette, who lived during the war for 15 years, endless upheaval was the norm. “You passed through my village Michael in peace time, but it was the front line,” she shared with me. “Every day was a surprise. You had to watch for snipers and bombs in the hills. Imagine going to school like that! Sometimes we would take refuge in another more secure village.” Antoinette emigrated from Lebanon at the age of 22 and settled in Ottawa. She brought with her certification in Early Childhood Education (ECE), and obtained Canadian ECE requirements at La Cité Collégiale, but she felt a greater calling to teach older students. She upgraded her education in several stages, first working hard to earn an undergraduate degree from Ottawa U in

Every time we have an election, we get the maps, federal, provincial, municipal, and discuss the vote. This past year we did a workshop on how to spot fake news. Canadian history with a related interest in Indigenous People’s issues. Teachers College followed and that led to a position with the OCSB in 2003. Beyond being a gifted communicator and energetic educator, Antoinette shares something very special with her students, her wartime journal entries made between 1983-84. “My own teacher gave us The Journal of Anne Frank, and said we could start our own journal and fill it with our thoughts,” she recalls. “I still have it and show my students every year. I eventually stopped writing, I tell them, because it was never ending, over and over, is how it feels in a war. It was tedious, because war can destroy not only buildings but also dreams. Peace is something that everyone has to fight for in their hearts and in their actions. I think that is my main message for my students.” Antoinette takes her Canadian citizenship very seriously. In 2009, she rallied support from her principal

and the OCSB to attend The Teachers Institute on Canadian Parliamentary Democracy, a remarkable program sponsored by The Library of Parliament. “80 teachers from across Canada assemble for a week on Parliament Hill. I always took my students to the Hill to meet MP David McGuinty, so when I learned about The Institute, I thought, wow, what a great professional development opportunity to expand my knowledge about governance and democracy!” Antoinette pursued other workshops with a passion, including enrolling her class in the Student Vote program of CIVIX, a national charity dedicated to strengthening democracy through civic education. “Every time we have an election, we get the maps, federal, provincial, municipal, and discuss the vote. This past year we did a workshop on how to spot fake news that was amazing!” Coming from a country ravaged by sectarian war has inspired Antoinette’s appreciation of Canada’s efforts in multiculturalism. “My 30 students identified as coming from 17 different countries of origin,” she says, always reminding them that all that really matters is to be good friends and neighbours living in peace. “I felt a real connection with the Syrian and Iraqi refugee families in my school, because we speak the same language. I always make sure they learn that receiving so much from Canada means they must give back in return.” Antoinette herself is certainly a shining example of that lesson n Antoinette Nehme is an active member of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association. 37 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021


business by Michael Bussiere

Chris Pereira and CEI. A unique Canadian-led business ecosystem.

usiness has been anything but B business as usual, a fact seen in the profound transformation that

started long before COVID-19, and a reality that Chris Pereira knows and understands very well. Chris has spearheaded a smart and effective response to the head-spinning challenges facing entrepreneurs and innovators working in the tech space in 2021. As the founder and CEO of Vancouver-based Canadian Ecosystem Institute (CEI), Chris has created a business hub for Canadian companies to integrate with the Asia-Pacific market and vice-versa, including opportunities to acquire the elusive investment capital coveted by all startups. Chris is drawing upon his 15-year career in Canada and China to get CEI off the ground. He’s fluently bilingual (written/spoken) in both Mandarin and English, and has deep experience as a constructive bridge builder among different interests and cultures. “My goal with CEI is to help build connections between Canada and Asia Pacific,” Chris says. “I want to make Richmond BC a role model of successful multiculturalism in Canada, and ensure companies and people are able to integrate smoothly into the market here in Canada and overseas.” Chris has worked with hundreds of companies, dozens of Fortune 500 enterprises, and was recently a featured speaker at the International Economic Forum of the Americas (IEFA), representing CEI as part of a conversation entitled Accelerating the Global Digital Economy.

38 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021

Specifically, CEI provides content, ecosystem, and research support needed by its clients to effectively brand themselves as valuable participants in the marketplace, to grow client business and attract investment. Things are progressing swiftly. “Coming out of 2020, we’re working with our clients to prepare for the post-COVID-19 recovery,” Chris says. “We’re expecting significant growth in 2021, and will be working closely with our partners and clients to seize on growth opportunities as the economic recovery unfolds.” One such client that has partnered with CEI is Montreal-based MCG, a nextgeneration logistics support company powered by blockchain technology, a revolutionary data structure that first appeared with Bitcoin. Blockchains hold transactional records while ensuring security, transparency, and decentralization. MCG is promising “traceability, transparency, and trust” as it works to build blockchain-enabled distribution for products like the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Zehua (David) Wang is the CTO of MCG and an Adjunct Professor at UBC. “We're proud to partner with Chris and his team at the Canadian Ecosystem Institute for this important

project,” David says. “The blockchain will ensure that critical data about the COVID-19 vaccine temperature and transport conditions are never tampered with or changed, so Canadians receive the highest quality vaccines that will eventually end the pandemic and lockdowns. Our team is working day and night to achieve this with CEI as we speak.” Parallel to CEI is its event and community arm, West Coast Opportunity Accelerator (WCOA). Whether it is collaborating intentionally for social impact, creating synergies between companies, or supporting recent grads in work placements, WCOA events build on the inner drive shared by all of its members to ensure everyone leaves every event with an opportunity, regardless of age or career stage. Their most recent event on the Future of Education drew an audience of over 350 people, and featured guest speaker remarks by Michael Hawes, CEO of Fulbright Canada. Panelists hailed from Harvard, Tsinghua, and Colleges and Institutes Canada. Chris has a larger pan-Pacific vision for CEI. “Once we have the roster, I’ll be seeking investment in Hong Kong or Shenzhen,” Chris says. “We’re thinking big with this project, and in the next 5 to 10 years, I can imagine CEI going global. We’re excited that things are moving forward. In fact, I would encourage anyone out there: If you have an idea, we have a roadmap to make it a reality. So get in touch!”n www.linkedin.com/in/cpvancouver/


business by Nicholson Gluckstein Lawyers

Should I hire a lawyer for a car accident?

ou may find yourself considering Y whether you need to hire a personal injury lawyer to represent you because

you suffered severe injuries resulting from a car accident. In this article, I will go over some of the factors to consider when contemplating hiring a lawyer. In these cases, it will be well worth the fees paid to a lawyer to advance your best interests. This is because, in many situations, mainly where serious injuries are involved, only a qualified lawyer can obtain the compensation you deserve and may require for the rest of your life. In Ontario, there is a unique system for obtaining compensation for car accident injuries. Although quite complicated, an experienced lawyer can inform you of your rights, assist you in navigating your claim through the complex system, and help you obtain full and just compensation. Here are five factors you should consider if you are thinking about hiring a personal injury lawyer:

The Severity of Your Injuries

If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident, and neither party suffered injuries, and there was little to no property damage, hiring an injury lawyer may not be necessary. However, suppose you sustained severe injuries resulting from an accident that will require long-term care or have left you with permanent disabilities.To get the most out of your case or lawsuit, you need a lawyer who can pursue all available compensation forms for your injuries and other losses. Moreover, figuring out how your injuries will impact your present and future earning PHOTO: CLARK VAN DER BEKEN, UNSPLASH

No-fault insurance does not mean those drivers involved in car accidents are never at fault. capacity can be difficult and generally requires expert assistance. The amount of compensation you ultimately receive for your injuries largely depends on the degree of severity of the injuries and impairments. Insurance companies measure the severity of your impairments by the extent of treatment reasonably necessary, the length of your recovery time, and the impact the injuries have had and will continue to have on your income-earning ability and your quality of life. Liability is Not Clear

The term “no-fault insurance” can be a misleading term for many people. However, no-fault insurance does not mean those drivers involved in car accidents are never at fault. Someone is usually at fault in a car accident. A driver can be anywhere between 100% and 0% at fault. Who is at fault will be a significant factor in how you proceed through the insurance claim. Be aware that the insurer will consider anything you say to them in determining your entitlement to benefits. There Are Multiple Parties Involved in the Accident

When multiple parties are involved in an accident, dealings with insurance companies can be very complicated. Because several people may have been injured, there may not be as

much settlement money to cover all claims comprehensively. You could also be alleged by another party to be partially at fault, ultimately having your settlement reduced because of your proportional responsibility for the accident. In this case, a lawyer can help protect you against legal claims by the other parties involved in the accident. Economic Loss & NonEconomic Loss

If you have missed more than a couple of days of work or school, or if you can’t engage in your usual activities, it may be worth considering hiring a personal injury lawyer. Non-economic losses such as pain and suffering damages, damages for emotional trauma, and loss of companionship are typical but complex claims under Ontario’s compensation system. Insurance Company refuses to Pay

Sometimes, insurance companies refuse to make a fair settlement or make any settlement offer at all. Sometimes negotiations have broken down. Hiring a lawyer can help you secure a fair settlement offer. There is also a chance that an insurance company is engaged in bad faith or unfair practice in responding to your claim. In that case, you will need assistance from a lawyer who has experience litigating such insurance claims. You do not have to retain a lawyer right away, but it can help you learn about your legal rights n injurylawyersottawa.com 39 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021


business by Sofia Donato

Morneau Shepell innovative use of AbilitiCBT online therapy proving a success

ow more than ever, stress and anxiety are mental health concerns that impact N many Canadians across all areas of their daily lives, from physical and mental to social and financial. While these concerns are common, the current economic climate and significant health risk brought on by COVID-19 has exacerbated these symptoms and put the wellbeing of many Canadians at significant risk.

Recognizing the need for therapist-assisted mental health support, Morneau Shepell expanded its internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy solution, AbilitiCBT, at the outset of the pandemic to address the uniquely challenging aspects of pandemics. Since its initial expansion, the program has continued to grow to support the continued decline in Canadians’ mental health during this difficult time. To learn more about how the program is helping Canadians, we spoke to Morneau Shepell’s Nigel Branker, president, health and productivity solutions and executive vice president. OTTAWA LIFE: What is cognitive behavioural therapy? How does the internet-based program work? Nigel Branker: Cognitive behavioural

therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective forms of therapy and works by helping individuals understand and change the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that are causing them problems. AbilitiCBT is an internetbased cognitive behavioural therapy (iCBT) solution, meaning that it works the same way but virtually. Once someone signs up, the first step is an assessment of needs through a five to seven-minute questionnaire, followed by connecting with a professional therapist by phone or video. The individual then navigates through structured modules at their own

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pace, while their therapist monitors progress and provides feedback. Each module contains activities, videos and assignments to help individuals learn, develop and practice new skills. There are scheduled check-ins along the way either by phone, video or messaging, depending on individual preference, to help ensure program adherence for optimal clinical results. OTTAWA LIFE: What inspired you to start this program? Nigel Branker: While AbilitiCBT

has been on the market for over two years, listening to the ongoing changing needs of our clients made us quickly realize that the uniquely challenging aspects of the pandemic were having a negative impact on Canadians’ mental health. At the same time, we recognized that many Canadians were dealing

with added uncertainty regarding job and financial security, and with the high costs of therapy, many individuals would not receive the care they need. In response, we announced in March 2020 that we would be expanding our existing AbilitiCBT solution to address anxiety symptoms related to the uniquely challenging aspects of pandemics, including uncertainty, social isolation, caring for family and community members, information overload and stress management. This was quickly recognized by the provincial governments in Ontario and Manitoba, with whom we partnered with to provide the program for free to all residents age 16+. OTTAWA LIFE: Do you have any future plans and hopes for online therapy? Nigel Branker: The role of digital tools like online therapy and iCBT have become critical in supporting Canadians’ wellbeing as a result of COVID-19, and the core elements of the program, including access, convenience and affordability, are definitely here to stay during and after the pandemic.

We remain committed to providing Canadians with support for the vast range of mental health challenges they are facing due to the pandemic, and recently announced the expansion of AbilitiCBT to include new programs designed to help people deal with trauma, grief and loss. As well, we are developing a program to manage


obsessive-compulsive disorder and are expanding our anxiety program to include panic disorder and social anxiety.

provinces across the country, and it can be extremely difficult for parents and teachers to plan for and navigate their daily routine.

OTTAWA LIFE: Where can Canadians access AbilitiCBT?

Prioritizing self-care is one of the best ways to combat these stressors and includes anything from maintaining a healthy diet or regimented sleep routine to staying hydrated and focusing on breathing. Individuals need to ensure that they are putting their mental wellbeing first and scheduling time for themselves, to avoid the constant change in routine taking control of their lives.

Nigel Branker: AbilitiCBT can be

accessed online at myicbt.com. Once registered, individuals can complete their program online or through the AbilitiCBT app available through Google Play or the App Store. This means individuals can get help when they need it, where they need it and from any device.

OTTAWA LIFE: While the pandemic has impacted all Canadians, there is no doubt that it has brought on significant challenges for parents and teachers. Can you give me some examples of the stresses parents and teachers are facing, and how these concerns can be alleviated? Nigel

Branker:

Stressors

like

decreasing work hours, job instability and having to adapt to remote work conditions have been negatively impacting the mental health and wellbeing of parents and teachers since the beginning of the pandemic, but one of the biggest stressors both groups are facing today is prolonged uncertainty. Whether it’s questions about online learning and/or homeschooling, risks related to in-person classrooms, concerns over mask and sanitization regulations or information overload, there continue to be many uncertainties faced by parents and teachers on a daily basis. Additionally, regulations are constantly changing in many

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In instances where self-care is not enough, we encourage people to take advantage of the many resources available in Canada, such as AbilitiCBT, which is free to residents 16+ in Ontario and Manitoba. Resources like AbilitiCBT help individuals build the foundational skills and resiliency needed to cope with anxiety and uncertainty as the pandemic continues n myicbt.com

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Discover a healthy community and a sense of belonging at the Y! JoiN todAY! ymcaywca.ca

YMCA-YWCA of the National Capital Region 41 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021


42 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021


close to home far from ordinary

Top 10 winter activities to discover in

MONT-TREMBLANT

he most popular winter destination T in Quebec, Mont-Tremblant offers an unparalleled playground to all those

who love the outdoors and wideopen spaces. Mountains as far as the eye can see, one of the best ski resorts in Canada, numerous lakes, a national park, hundreds of kilometres of trails… the options are endless for anyone who wants to escape and unwind in our magnificent part of the country. Tremblant resort offers a safe and practical pied-à-terre that will amaze both young and old with its enchanted village appearance and its familyfriendly atmosphere. But what makes Tremblant so essential this winter is the multitude of activities

that it offers. Here are the 10 most popular activities offered by The Tremblant Activity Centre. Dog sledding

If you had to choose just one activity, it would definitely be this one. Imagine yourself dashing through the woods pulled by a pack of adorable huskies, a fine snow falling, pristine white landscapes… Are you convinced yet? Tremblant dog sledding offers several dog sledding packages accessible to everyone, where you can—depending on the chosen activity—drive your own team of dogs, learn more about the job of the musher and the dogs or spend time cuddling with them… a must for young and old.

Snowmobiling

Another quintessential Canadian activity, snowmobiling offers guaranteed thrills! Whether you’re an experienced driver or a beginner, we have activities for all levels and several different packages (full-day, half-day, evening, etc.). In our opinion, it’s the best way for lovers of motorsports to enjoy our marvellous landscapes! Dune buggy 4 x 4 Because not everyone is comfortable getting on a snowmobile, and because family outings are also fun, we have the dune buggy! Hop into an enclosed and heated off-road 4x4 vehicle, and you’re ready to set off on an adventure! You’ll drive your own vehicle with up to 3 passengers and follow the guide over 43 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021


snowy wooded trails. The activity is accessible to children ages 5 and up. Sleigh rides

Wonder for the little ones and a return to childhood for the older ones: this is what awaits you at the sleigh ride activity at Tremblant! Choose from a pleasant ride during which you can let your mind wander into contemplation or a real show in great company. Our host—a woodsman, storyteller, and musician—will offer you unforgettable moments with folk songs, stories, and local legends. Plenty of fun ahead! Tubing

Enjoy our 8 tubing lanes—from beginner to expert level—to let loose as a family or among friends on the slopes of a well-groomed hill in downtown Mont-Tremblant. The tow- lift back up to the top lets you save your energy for the ride. A very popular après-ski activity! Indoor games

Because sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate, we have a wide range of really fun indoor games that are suitable for all ages: escape games, laser tag, virtual reality, etc. At any time of day or night, enjoy fun experiences in extraordinary worlds. Escape your everyday routine and have some crazy fun, all while staying warm inside. Snowshoeing Fans of long, beautiful walks in the snow will have plenty of fun exploring our wonderful territory on snowshoes! 44 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021

Set off on an adventure on your own with rented snowshoes or treat yourself to the exciting experience of a guided tour with interpretation of the natural surroundings and local folklore. Our customers’ ultimate favourite activity is feeding the chickadees on the charming trails of Domaine St-Bernard. These birds come and peck directly in your hands. Simply wonderful! Ice fishing

‘Thrills’ might not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of ice fishing, but with a little help from our experienced guide, everything about the ice fishing experience is fun, and when you catch your first fish, it’s pretty thrilling! You’ll keep warm in a heated shelter and even use a submersible camera to observe the fish in their natural habitat at your leisure. An experienced guide is there to teach you the technique and introduce you to the local fauna. Yellow perch, bass, and pike, which are your prey, will be released into the water at the end of

the activity for conservation reasons. Helicopter flights

Even at the summit of the highest mountain, you will never have a view worthy of the one that awaits you up in the air above the Laurentians. Treat yourself to a helicopter flight and embark on the adventure of a lifetime. A simple flight or a heli-spa package option are available depending on your desires of the moment. Have a good flight! Ice climbing

Here is a great challenge to tackle for those aged 8 and up: climbing one of the most impressive ice falls in the Tremblant region! During the ice climbing activity, an instructor will introduce you to the required techniques, so no experience is necessary to enjoy this awesome winter activity. In the same vein, extraordinary via ferrata and zipline activities are also available in the cold season n tremblant.ca PHOTOS: KHRISTINA DEBROUIN


historic Ottawa by Michael Bussière

Lebreton Flats.

Where dreams go to fizzle out.

ttawa is the only G7 capital O that features a gigantic ghost town within sight of its parliamentary

precinct. This peculiarity is not the result of some natural disaster, but rather the good intentions of the Diefenbaker government to clean up and revive what was the decaying neighbourhood and industrial zone known as Lebreton Flats. Life-timers in Ottawa may believe the Flats are cursed, as it remains mostly, embarrassingly vacant almost 60 years after bulldozing began.

Top of the page: Loading Lumber Barges on the Ottawa River, c.1890s, print: albumen, Bytown Museum, P2738a. Above: “Fire of April 26th 1900. Hull & Ottawa looking over “Flats” from Sparks Street, terminus.”

The British settlement of what was an ancient Indigenous gathering place by the Chaudière Falls is a tale rife with failure and sordid ambitions.

went bankrupt and he landed in a debtor's prison. When he was released in 1820, Randall immediately sued the government for damages. Lot 40 was up for sale under a sheriff ’s authority.

Loyalist Robert Randall first purchased what was surveyed as 'Lot 40’ in 1809 intending to harness the water power for mills. Unfortunately, the first of many, many plans for the Flats was foiled when Randall’s financial backers

George Ramsay, the Earl of Dalhousie and Governor General of British North America, had knowledge of Capt. Joshua Jebb’s survey between Kingston and the Ottawa River that confirmed the viability of a military

canal. At a gathering of officers in Richmond, Dalhousie was informed of the need for storehouses en route to Montreal, with the south shore of the Ottawa at the Chaudière being the perfect location for both projects. He opened his mouth and informed the gathering of his intention to grab Lot 40 as soon as Randall could be located. Too bad for Dalhousie that one Capt. John Lebreton was also in attendance. 45 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021


Everybody knows the vaudeville team of Ruddy and Melnyk, who promised to finally relieve Ottawa of its biggest hole, but who instead blew up years of public/private/public planning.

Lebreton got wind of the sheriff ’s sale taking place in Brockville and deftly enticed local lawyer Livius Sherwood to go halfsies on Lot 40. The two men bought it for £499, leaving Dalhousie livid and accusing Lebreton of putting profit ahead of the concerns of the Crown. And profit they did, selling off lots and laying the groundwork for Lebreton Flats 1.0. By the 1850s, the district boomed with logs and lumber yards. A residential neighbourhood laced with train tracks built up until the great Fire of 1900 wiped out most of central Hull and just about everything on the Ottawa side as far south as Carling Avenue. 15,000 people were victims of an honest-togoodness housing crisis and emergency. Lebreton 2.0 slowly emerged as an industrial zone with houses, taverns, and diners serving workers. The groundwork for Lebreton 3.0 was exposed when the feds demolished the entire district, displacing almost 3,000 people from their dilapidated but 46 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021

affordable homes.A few brick stragglers and a fascinating network of aqueducts can still be found around the edges. It was to be home to a new bureaucratic epicentre and a freeway, with little to offer the public as recreation or national pride. It’s become a place where visitors to the War Museum are discouraged from turning 180º to face caramel condo intrusions in what otherwise resembles downtown Beirut. In the mid-19th century, central Paris was polluted with squalor, social crisis, and danger. It was a long-standing vision of Bonaparte to create an Imperial Paris with a grand plan akin to Vienna. The fulfillment of that dream was undertaken by his nephew, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, who commissioned Georges-Eugène Haussmann to transform the sprawling medieval quarters into the Paris the world knows today. He did it in less time than The Flats have been sitting vacant. Of course, everybody knows the

Above: View of LeBreton Flats, c.1892, photograph: silver gelatin, Bytown Museum, P752

vaudeville team of Ruddy and Melnyk, who promised to finally relieve Ottawa of its biggest hole, but who instead blew up years of public/private/public planning and urban dreamweaving. So goes the adage that the more interests are involved in a decision, the less likely a decision will be made. The first real master plan for Lebreton was released by the NCC almost a year ago, and is still no closer to realization on land that would have long ago been fit for occupancy. It’s not exactly bold. More greenspace and water in a city that probably has the highest per capita of both on the continent.Why not make it a real tribute to the spirit of Ottawa and name it Parc Raisonnable Sensible Park, where one can sit docile by Sorry Pond and feed the ducks gluten-free snacks from a vending machine. Or consider that while Ottawa is not Paris, it’s not Milwaukee either n


47 OTTAWALIFE WINTER/SPRING 2021


Profile for Ottawa Life Magazine

Ottawa Life Winter/Spring 2021  

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