Campaign Trail Mix: The Ripple Effect

Debate debacle

I tried to watch the Ripple FX TV mayoral debate (by which I mean, the video of it the morning after the actual debate) but couldn’t get past the first few minutes during which both Mayor Cecil Clarke and candidate Chris Abbass were KICKED OUT.

Clarke, who wanted to appear by video (and who clearly had been told he could appear by video because HE WAS APPEARING BY VIDEO) got tossed because, although she’d told him he could participate this way and facilitated his appearing this way (from what looked like a corner of a brick-lined cell), moderator Rebecca Wall bowed to the will of the crowd and decided only the candidates who had come in person could participate. (I had said in an earlier version of this item that she bowed to the will of the audience and the candidates but have seen been informed this wasn’t strictly true, I’ve also received more information about Clarke’s response to the initial invitation, and I need to ask a few questions and get back to you. Nothing I’ve heard makes me think kicking two of five candidates out of the debate was a wise move.)

Personally, I think COVID concerns are a perfectly valid reason to skip an in-person debate. (Has it escaped everyone’s notice that the leaders of two of Canada’s national political parties have contracted the virus?) But the crowd was having none of it and the organizers literally pulled the plug on the mayor.

And it didn’t end there, no, this debate then went FULL CLOWN CAR as candidate Chris Abbass got lippy with Wall, earned himself a warning, then did it again and got escorted out by security.

Ripple FX TV debate

Screen shot from moment in debate moderator Rebecca Hall orders candidate Chris Abbass off the stage.

I watched this part of the debate repeatedly (the way I used to watch episodes of the original, British version of The Office: with my hands over my eyes, peeking at it through my fingers) but I found I couldn’t watch any more of it — I think it would be like settling in to watch the rest of the play after Lincoln was shot.

I don’t think anybody’s credibility could survive an opening like that and I can’t see the point of a mayoral debate that excludes the incumbent — especially one who has won two previous terms and has to be considered a serious contender for a third.

The thing had 21,000 views when I looked at it this morning and Wall said repeatedly they were playing to a “national” audience. Oh yay.

I think it’s what the kids call “cringe” (I don’t know for sure, I haven’t checked with the kids) but it seems to meet the Urban Dictionary definition:

When someone acts/ or is so embarrassing or awkward , it makes you feel extremely ashamed and/or embarrassed.

I do want to hear what the candidates — ALL the candidates — have to say, so I will watch the CBC Information Morning debate on Wednesday. Something tells me moderator Steve Sutherland will be able to keep things under control without calling security.


Accentuate the positive

I am really enjoying the responses I’m receiving from my questions to municipal candidates and to prove I am not simply a nattering nabob of negativity, I’d like to highlight I few thoughts I’ve heard that have really given me hope for this next council. So, in no particular order:

  • District 5 candidate Christina Joe’s suggestion that a good way to unite the communities of the CBRM would be to make sure they are all connected by public transit.
  • District 7 candidate Adam Young’s suggestion that we need a “youth strategy” that actually seeks input from young people.
  • District 1 candidate Shara Vickers thoughts on improving transit — and the transit plan District 6 candidate Keith MacDonald is drafting, which I would love to see!
  • District 3 candidate John Whalley’s insistence on the importance of public consultation.
  • District 6 candidate Joe Ward’s thoughts on tax reform.
  • District 12 candidate Donald Campbell’s focus on the issue of poverty.
  • District 5 candidate Nigel Kearns’ suggestion (which I actually heard during a candidates’ round table on CBC Mainstreet) that we need to get more people living in downtown Sydney.
  • District 6 candidate Todd Riley’s suggestion that it might be time to elect councilors at large rather than by district. (I like it and yet I have doubts — I think it would make for an interesting discussion.)
  • District 4 candidate Yianni Harbis’ referencing cooperatives and the need to address the inequalities inherent in a free-market system.
  • District 12 candidate Kim Sheppard’s highlighting of housing and addictions of issues that need to be addressed.
  • District 3 candidate Glen Murrant’s ideas about rural internet and solar energy.
  • District 1 candidate Gordon MacDonald’s concern that each former community making up the CBRM should “at least have a playground.”
  • District 6 candidate Barbara Beaton’s concern about affordable housing.
  • District 3 candidate Cyril MacDonald’s inclusion of mowing lawns as a kid in the list of experiences that qualify him as a candidate! I think it’s all grist for the mill.
  • District 6 candidate Glenn Paruch’s distaste for in camera meetings.


Dead souls

Note to candidates: placing campaign signs next to graveyards is a bad idea, one that is bound to get people thinking about dead people voting.

Vote Scott MacQuarrie sign next to graveyard.



In terms of signage, District 5 incumbent Eldon MacDonald seems to be going for “large but tasteful.”

I was curious about the use of quotation marks on the tag line: “COURAGE TO MOVE FORWARD”

Elect Eldon MacDonald sign

Basically, I was curious as to who is being quoted. I googled the expression but found no satisfactory answer — I found it misattributed to Winston Churchill (multiple times, before I stumbled upon what seemed to me an authoritative debunking.)

I also found it linked to the Bible — Joshua: 1 3-9, which finds God instructing Joshua repeatedly to “be strong and courageous” as he leads the Israelites into the promised land.

But that’s surely too heady a reference for a municipal election campaign? Right?


Cut to the chase

I don’t have a photo for this one, but I passed a lawn decorated with two Cecil Clarke signs and an Ivan Doncaster sign and it occurred to me that, given one was seeking a third term as mayor and the other was first elected to council 25 years ago, a much more efficient use of materials would be to have a single sign reading:



Above the fold

And now for something totally different.

I read the Cape Breton Post‘s account of port developer Albert Barbusci’s latest “announcement” online, so it wasn’t until later in the day, when I saw the print edition on a newsstand, that I realized what was on the front page.

I would love to have been a fly on the wall at that editorial meeting:

“Barbusci says he’s got shipping lines — LINES! — ready to use the Port of Sydney! It looks like container terminal is a done deal!”

“Yeah, that’s great, but I think we’ll lead with…the one-eyed dog.”

For the record, I think they made the right call.