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  • Rob Snow

Making sausage in Alta Vista

If you don't want to know how the sausage is made, stay out of the kitchen.

We had a peek inside the meat grinder of Ottawa's election politics today.

Ottawa is in the home stretch of a local election year that has offered very little in the way of drama, tame compared to the daily hysteria coming out of Toronto.

Lately though, the ward race in Alta Vista is shaping up to be one to watch. The incumbent councillor is Jean Cloutier. A city hall insider recently described him as "a capable councillor, but a terrible politician."

If he loses the election, this is the day it fell apart.

In the above email, Peter is the former Alta Vista ward councillor, Peter Hume. Hume's endorsement of his long time friend, Mr. Cloutier, sealed victory four years ago. Hume is a veteran of municipal politics, once chairing the city's powerful planning committee. Cloutier is a member of the current planning committee.

After Hume's departure from city hall, he jumped into the local development industry. In no time flat, he went from being lobbied by developers - to being a developer.

With the Cloutier campaign struggling against impressive challengers, Hume is on the bandwagon as campaign chair, in an attempt to shore up support for his handpicked heir.

In what is the second-worst brain fart of this otherwise dull election year (Tim Tierney's OPP investigation takes the gold medal for alleged stupidity), Hume revealed he will host a fundraiser for his good buddy at Al's Steakhouse, the upscale downtown eatery.

"Personal cheques should be made out to Elect Jean Cloutier," reads the email invitation.

Sadly, the ex-councillor's networking skills are sharper than his computer skills, as he failed to BCC (blind carbon copy) the invitation, revealing his pitch to a who's who of Ottawa's development industry.

It spread around city hall like rats in a firehouse and eventually landed in the inboxes of the local media and Cloutier's opponents.


It couldn't come at a worse time for the Cloutier team.

The ward includes Heron Gate, where hundreds of low income residents have been evicted from run-down townhomes. The optics now have him lunching - and cashing cheques from greedy developers! That his opponents have already vowed not to accept money from developers is salt in the wound.

There's nothing wrong with accepting donations from people in the development industry. Individual donations are capped at $1200. There's nothing nefarious going on here.

Voters in Alta Vista will just have to decide if they like the sausage, now that they know how it's made.

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