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Our event on Ottawa's state of democracy is about to begin!

You can watch the event at the link below. We will also be livetweeting on our Twitter page!
Moderator for the event will be Patricia Harewood, a labour lawyer and unapologetic feminist.

She is a board member for @CAWI_IVTF and has over 20 years of working on human rights issues.
Panelists will have five minutes to speak about problems and then come back to speak about solutions.

The end of the event will include a question and answer period from the audience. #DemocracyinOttawa
Our first panelist is @Ottawa_123 advocating for electoral reform.

@FarnazBehrooz will be their first speaker who has worked in the civic engagement sector.

@columgw is next who is active in municipal activism and who has been involved in electoral reform campaigns in BC
.@FarnazBehrooz says #ottawa residents are becoming even further distanced from their local government.

She says some councillors won with as low as 25% voter turnout #DemocracyinOttawa
.@FarnazBehrooz says we still have a lot to do in the City but the sad thing is that this is the best we've ever done. #DemocracyinOttawa
Our voting system, says Behrooz, is known as "First-Past-Post" which means that candidates can win with less than 50% of the vote.

Our electoral system works for and was built for white, male property owners. #DemocracyinOttawa
.@FarnazBehrooz says that our First-Past-The-Post system leads to uninspiring elections and campaigns. #DemocracyinOttawa
Our next speaker is Christina Bouchard who is a PhD student and researcher at UOttawa focusing on municipal governance and procurement.

She worked for the City of Toronto for ten years as a planner. #DemocracyInOttawa
If you're able to get people involved in the planning process earlier than folks will be able to fight back against potentially unwanted developments says Bouchard. #DemocracyInOttawa
Bouchards says that her observation from the literature is that it is very helpful is talk about what you do want not what you don't want when talking with elected officials in regards to development #DemocracyInOttawa
Next speaker is @OttawaACORN, grassroots, membershi-run and owned community tenant organization.

Speaking for ACORN is their head organizer Ashley Reyns and member and co-chair of South Ottawa Chapter, Last. #DemocracyinOttawa
Last says that @OttawaACORN has been organizing in the Herongate since 2007.

Tenants there had been dealing with dilapidated housing conditions because of neglectful landlord, Timbercreek and Transglobal who owned the buildings before Timbercreek #DemocracyInOttawa
Because of these conditions, Last says @OttawaACORN has been calling for things like landlord licensing (which failed at City Council a couple of months ago). #DemocracyInOttawa
Herongate was one of the largest mass evictions in Canadian history and the mayor @JimWatsonOttawa did almost nothing about it #DemocracyInOttawa
Now speaking is Ashley Reyns, who is the head organizer for @OttawaACORN.

She says that landlords aren't necessarily acting within the law. She says it's hard to get politicians on side when they are totally beholden to developers. #DemocracyInOttawa
It takes a lot more of us to move the needle on issues than it does for developers and landlords who can just pay some money, while we need an army of people and there are a lot of barriers for low-income folks to get involved #DemocracyInOttawa
Community consultations are often used by the City to just check something off their list not as an opportunity to actually listen to residents.

Consultations are not accessible to residents, like low-income residents in Herongate in Alta Vista Ward #DemocracyInOttawa
Our next speaker is @deebijoux who is a co-founder of @J4Abdirahman and chair of the @fbcfcn and has been involved in several other groups across the City.

She has been instrumental in holding the @OttawaPolice accountable. #DemocracyInOttawa
.@deebijoux says that the state of democracy in #Ottawa is absolutely under siege.

She says that the Black community in particular has faced extreme challenges and barriers to democracy #DemocracyInOttawa
Our democracy is absolutely broken says @deebijoux. Communities do not feel like they are being heard. #DemocracyInOttawa
All #COVID19 has really done has highlighted the challenges that communities of colour face. #DemocracyInOttawa
.@J4Abdirahman was created so that we could participate in democracy says @deebijoux but nothing has changed in four years despite our hard work #DemocracyInOttawa
It's important for us to note that because that trust is broken. I think that the community is not being taken seriously.

The true definition of democracy is when the community has the agency in engaging in decisions that actually affect them says @deebijoux
Next speaker is @CapitalWard City Councilor @ShawnMenard1. #DemocracyInOttawa
.@ShawnMenard1 says that developer influence is not just specific to #Ottawa it is something that a lot of cities face. #DemocracyInOttawa
.@ShawnMenard1 says that the influence of developers lobbyists isnt the same as someone from a group like @EcologyOttawa. They do not have equal amounts of power. #DemocracyInOttawa
The City budget is done in a way where residents cannot get involved. It is centralized in the mayor's office.
We've just been zoombombed folks but are back on. Sorry about that! #DemocracyInOttawa
.@ShawnMenard1 says that having the Mayor as the chair, having a political chair does not make for good debate at City Council #DemocracyInOttawa
Now speaking about solutions first is back to @Ottawa_123 with @columgw #DemocracyInOttawa
Defenders of the status quo say that changing the electoral system is too complicated but ranked balloting systems are used all around the world, in fact most jursidictions use it. #DemocracyInOttawa
London, Ontario became the first City in Canada to adopt ranked balloting #DemocracyInOttawa
The first Black woman elected to London City Council was elected under a ranked balloting system says @columgw #DemocracyInOttawa
Ranked ballots allow you to vote for who you want and not just against who you don't want #DemocracyInOttawa
Next up is Christina Bouchard. She says that when we have organized community groups who ask for what we do want instead of what we don't want it's very helpful for elected officials #DemocracyInOttawa
Moving back to @OttawaACORN they say the best way to create solutions is to organize.

Today at the CPSC committee, they were able to push a bylaw to help tenants. #DemocracyInOttawa
We need more people joining grassroots groups like @OttawaACORN says Last. #DemocracyInOttawa
It's near impossible to win on some issues when you have no allies inside government that's why @OttawaACORN created its political action committee to support progressive candidates. #DemocracyInOttawa
The Agenda For Change was @OttawaACORN's progressive platform last election that helped elect @tm_kavanagh. #DemocracyInOttawa
Back to @deebijoux from @J4Abdirahman to speak about solutions.

Dahabo says it is key to make sure that the community is present to speak about their lived experiences. #DemocracyInOttawa
.@deebijoux says that we need to increase access to the internet and open up media channels to more marginalized communities to increase access to democracy in #Ottawa #DemocracyInOttawa
We have a policing system that was never intended to save Black lives says @deebijoux #DemocracyInOttawa
We need to empower more women, particularly women of colour to be able to engage in Ottawa's democracy like @YvetteAshiri who is running for #Cumberland who has been endorsed by our members. #DemocracyInOttawa
.@ShawnMenard1 says that groups like @HorizonOttawa and @EcologyOttawa are solutions, the folks on this call, community associations are types of solutions that we need. #DemocracyInOttawa
.@ShawnMenard1 says that we need to disuade candidates from taking developer donations.

Donation limit was actually raised in the recent provincial reforms in 2016 by the provincial government. #DemocracyInOttawa
.@ShawnMenard1 says that those on Planning Committee who took developer donations should recuse themselves from decisions. #DemocracyInOttawa
People need to show up to City Committees. It does help says @ShawnMenard1

Other ways are to make suggestions in the Mid-Term Governance Review which is coming up near the end of the year that looks at changing the City's governance structures. #DemocracyInOttawa
We also need to democratize the way we spend the money in our City Budget says @ShawnMenard1 #DemocracyInOttawa
We are now opening the floor for questions. #DemocracyInOttawa
Question is coming from participant about inclusionary zoning to @ShawnMenard1. What exactly is being done around it? #DemocracyInOttawa
.@ShawnMenard1 says that both he and councillor @cmckenney have been doing a lot to obtain hotels in the #Hotels2Homes campaign. #DemocracyInOttawa
.@ShawnMenard says not enough is being done and we need to push more. Steve Willis at the City is a staffer at the City folks can speak to. #DemocracyInOttawa
Question coming from participant now asking: What can we learn from the Chiareli scandal? #DemocracyInOttawa
.@deebijoux says that she just went through a process with the City about the anti-racism secretariat.

She saw a big gap there that was that the role was the key person to develop entire anti-racism policy at the City.

Ahmed says that this shouldnt be centralized in this office
The community should have a say says @deebijoux not just a centralized person #DemocracyInOttawa
Question coming from audience now about London electoral reform.

@columgw says that candidate said she wouldnt have ran if there wasn't a ranked ballot system. #DemocracyInOttawa
Question from audience asks candidates how would you define the word "progressive"? #DemocracyInOttawa
Christina Bouchard says progressive is a term that is constantly evolving. #DemocracyInOttawa
@OttawaACORN says a progressive Councillor is someone who supports ACORN's issues like affordable housing, transportation, etc.
Question from audience about affordable housing. How can we get more of the City to sign on to this? #DemocracyInOttawa
.@ShawnMenard1 says that we should be looking at inclusionary zoning, this is not happening in the City fast enough.

Says that they have been asking developers every time they meet with them to force some sort of affordable housing #DemocracyInOttawa
.@OttawaACORN says that other key things the City could do is through rental replacement bylaws for example. City Staff are looking at this

What this would mandate is tht affordable rental units tht were destroyed for new developments would have to be replaced #DemocracyInOttawa
Question now coming from participants about amalgamation - a big one! #DemocracyInOttawa
Question from participant asking quite simply how do we get the City and city councillor's to take resident's concerns seriously regarding development? #DemocracyInOttawa
Re: amalgamation Christina Bouchard reccomends this book by scholar Andrew Sancton, Merger Mania:…
Bouchard says that it is good to approach councillors as a group of residents with your concerns #DemocracyInOttawa
.@ShawnMenard1 says that amalgamation is not the problem - the problem is things like developer influence tht all people can get behind. #DemocracyInOttawa
We are wrapping up now.

Thanks to all who came out, our moderator Patricia Harewood and all our speakers: @OttawaACORN, @Ottawa_123, @columgw, @FarnazBehrooz, @ShawnMenard1, @deebijoux and Christina Bouchard! #DemocracyInOttawa
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