Ottawa·ELECTION 2018

Bay ward candidates deny partisan loyalties

Candidates vying to represent Bay ward on Ottawa city council were forced to defend their political allegiances at a debate Tuesday night.

5 candidates include former Liberal, NDP nominees

Bay ward candidates Don Dransfield, left, and Theresa Kavanagh, right, defended their political ties during a municipal debate Tuesday. (Laura Osman/CBC )

Candidates vying to represent Bay ward on Ottawa city council were forced to defend their political allegiances at a debate Tuesday night.

Some candidates used the unusual debate format as an opportunity to grill their opponents about any lingering partisan loyalties.

Erica Dath, who described herself as an independent candidate, questioned Theresa Kavanagh about her association with the NDP, the party under whose banner Kavanagh ran in the 1988 federal election.

Kavanagh, an Ottawa-Carleton District School Board trustee since 2010, is married to former city councillor Alex Cullen, who was briefly a Liberal MPP before joining the NDP. 

"I can tell you very certainly that I'm independent because I've been a school board trustee for the last eight years," Kavanagh said.

"It has nothing to do with party politics whatsoever."

Candidate Marc Lugert had a similar question for Don Dransfield, who ran for the provincial Liberals in 2011 and whose wife is Liberal MP Anita Vandenbeld.

"If I'm elected I'm going to be representing the same people as my wife is currently representing," Dransfield said. "I'm going to be fighting for the same people. So how is there any conflict of interest?"

Earlier in the debate he joked he had the ear of the MP for Ottawa West–Nepean when it comes to the city's relationship with the National Capital Commission.

A fifth candidate for Bay ward, Trevor Robinson, did not attend the debate.

Erica Dath, left, and Marc Lugert, right, questioned their opponents about their partisan ties. (Laura Osman/CBC)

Bus route changes rankle

Otherwise, the four Bay ward candidates shared similar views on most important issues, including public transit.

The candidates decried local bus route changes made in advance of the opening of the city's LRT system — changes many residents found far less convenient than the original routes. Transit riders have expressed particular concern about the Number 11, which no longer travels to Bayshore station.

Lugert suggested installing an independent board or consultant to review bus route changes and get community input before changes are put in place.

Dath agreed with the idea of a review board, but feared that solution may be too expensive. Instead, she suggested route changes should get the approval of existing advisory committees, which represent the users most likely to be affected.

Councillors can't micromanage everything at city hall, Kavanagh said, but she added they should be ready to represent their constituents on such important issues as the Number 11 bus.

Changing the routes before LRT is running didn't make sense, Dransfield said, but he believes putting the changes before a review board will slow the process of overhauling the bus system — a system Dransfield said must work for everyone.

Green space preservation and traffic calming also emerged as top issues for the candidates.

The CBC's Laura Osman covered at the debate. Here's a recap of her tweets.