Mayoral candidate Scharf ejected from debate

Four candidates in Ottawa's crowded mayoral race debated social services at the Bronson Centre Thursday night, while another was escorted from the building by police.

Four candidates in Ottawa's crowded mayoral race debated social services at the Bronson Centre Thursday night, while another was escorted from the building by police.

Jane Scharf, who won less than 1,500 votes in the 2006 election, took the stage at the "So you think you can Mayor?" event and demanded to be heard.  After a 30-minute delay, two police officers led Scharf from the stage.

Several members of the audience left after Scharf was removed. Most stayed to hear the debate between Capital Ward councillor Clive Doucet, Ottawa-area MPP Jim Watson, Carleton University journalism student Charlie Taylor, and political organizer and consultant Mike Maguire

Doucet said he envisions Ottawa as "a city where developers' interests are shaped around community interests, and not the other way around."

Watson called for long-term federal funding for affordable housing. "There's no question we need a national housing strategy," he said.

"We're the only G8 country that does not have a national housing strategy."

Taylor focused on bringing down costs for Ottawa's public transit users.

"You can have the best transit system in the world, and it doesn't help if people can't afford to ride it."

Only Maguire's idea to boost recreation fees was met with criticism from the crowd. "If you want to see recreation more affordable in Ottawa, we need to look at a solution like privatizing the operations," Maguire said.

Mayor Larry O'Brien and former regional chair for Ottawa-Carleton Andrew Haydon did not participate in the event.


Second debate protest for Scharf

The debate marked the second time in a week Scharf, best known as a poverty advocate, had protested a mayoral debate. On Tuesday she interrupted an event at the National Arts Centre's Fourth Stage that was being live-streamed on the internet.

Candidate Robert G. Gauthier is suing the organizers of the same Tuesday debate, the non-profit Institute On Governance (IOG), for not allowing him to participate.

Debate organizers like the IOG and the Coalition to Move Ottawa Forward are now looking for other options to accommodate the large group of candidates who all want to get their message across. The IOG invited candidates to fill out a questionnaire, so it could post the information on its website, while the coalition asked uninvited candidates to submit their positions to its website

The "So you think you can Mayor?" debate was hosted by a coalition of community groups.