REASON TO LOVE OTTAWA: Because Gerald Trottier’s legacy continues

By PAUL GESSELL

This feature appears in Ottawa Magazine’s April 2014 issue. Click here to subscribe to the print or digital versions.

Reasons-to-love-Ottawa

Ottawa Art Gallery senior curator Catherine Sinclair holds one of Gerald Trottier’s self-portraits (Photo: Justin Van Leeuwen)

The late Gerald Trottier has long been considered one of Ottawa’s most important artists. Now the artist’s family is donating 100 of his drawings, prints, and paintings to the Ottawa Art Gallery. It is the biggest donation of a single artist’s work in the history of the gallery.

Catherine Sinclair, senior curator at the Ottawa Art Gallery, is stickhandling the deal. She was invited last year to select works stored by the family since the artist’s death in 2004. She selected a bundle. “I was like a kid in a candy store,” Sinclair says.

She chose art from all periods of Trottier’s vast career, including his early social realist watercolours of the 1940s, paintings he took to the Sao Paulo Biennial in 1965 as Canada’s representative, religious paintings from the 1980s, and his dramatic self-portraits. According to a gallery statement, the newly acquired artworks “will begin to provide a more complete picture of Trottier’s prolific career, better demonstrate the diverse subject matter that he addressed, and more accurately show the depth of his artistic ability.”

Trottier’s legacy includes works at the National Gallery of Canada, liturgical appointments in several Ottawa churches, and a large mosaic mural in the H.M. Tory Building (the first art ever commissioned by Carleton University). And, as a teacher, Trottier influenced generations of young artists.

The Ottawa Art Gallery will celebrate the acquisitions with an exhibition of some of the donated works, plus other Trottier works for sale, until June 14 at Arts Court.

SNAPSHOT: Photos from the Politics and the Pen gala at Fairmont Chateau Laurier

On April 2, the annual Politics and the Pen gala welcomed notables from Canada’s political and literary worlds at the Fairmont Château Laurier. A fundraiser for the Writers’ Trust of Canada, an organization that seeks to further Canadian writers through a variety of programs, Politics and the Pen has become a premier event for writers and politicians to rub elbows with diplomats, journalists, and other leaders.

The evening culminated with journalist Paul Wells winning the $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing for his book The Longer I’m Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006 —.

Click on the photos to launch a slideshow of photos from Politics and the Pen.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Marisol Simoes

In the December 2008/January 2009 issue of OTTAWA MAGAZINE, Marisol Simoes was touted as a work hard/play hard entrepreneur. Now, she’s hiding from the camera and looking to shed her “defamatory libel” label. Here, a look back at Marisol in better times.

Marisol-Simoes-Ottawa

This photo ran in 2008, as Simoes was gearing up for a busy year with her restaurants. Photo by David Kawai.

Known for her tenacity and hands-on approach and rewarded for her success with a citing in Ottawa Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 this year, Marisol Simoes spends her days fussing with track lists, smoothing over staffing disasters, picking up ingredients, and generally staying on top of it all. Simoes, who, along with her husband, Zadek Ramowski, owns and operates three bustling clubs in the ByWard Market, has absolutely no plans to slow down in 2009. The new year will see Simoes catering parties with Kinki’s sushi platters and, in her spare time, launching a cooking show from the Mambo kitchen. In short, she’s bringing the party to you.

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION
To up the ante. “For years, we’ve been pushing the envelope, being a force for change in the Market. Next year we’re knocking on doors, bringing the taste and feel of Mambo and Kinki to anyone and everyone!”

I’ll BE RINGING IN THE NEW YEAR
Scurrying from club to club, champagne in hand.

IN SIX MONTHS I’LL BE
On vacation — yeah, right! “I’ve been dreaming of the beach for three years.” (It’s all part of the 10-year plan, Simoes swears.)

MY SECRET WEAPON
Guru. “I’ll drink a Red Bull if I have to, but Guru is all natural. It makes you feel great, and it makes you productive.”

YOU CAN CATCH ME
At your home or office, with trays of fusion fare from Kinki and Mambo.

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REASON TO LOVE OTTAWA: Because we have the world’s first waste-to-energy gasification plant that runs on hot air alone

In homage to Rod Bryden stepping down as CEO of Plasco Energy Group. Here’s hoping another kind of leadership can keep those gasification fires burning.
This story appears in the Winter edition of OTTAWA Magazine. Click here to subscribe to the print or digital versions.

Illustration by Alan King.

Illustration by Alan King.

When the city’s environment committee extended the deadline for Plasco Energy Group Inc. to secure financing for its high-tech waste-to-energy processing plant, many observers called foul. What are the rules on multi-million-dollar contracts? Does anybody know if this process even works? 

Eyebrows were raised when Rod Bryden first got the contract in 2012 to build the plant. After all, isn’t this the same guy who narrowly avoided personal bankruptcy when he owned the Sens? The guy so closely involved with financing the ill-fated WorldHeart mechanical heart scheme?

Indeed, anyone who was around in the tech boom years knows Bryden has lost money — his and others — on start-ups before. But that didn’t dissuade our elected officials from agreeing to a 20-year $180-million contract with Plasco, of which he is president and CEO, to convert waste to energy in a complex process known as plasma gasification.

Bryden and his crew were initially given until March 2013 to secure financing. That deadline came and went, and he was given an extension to late August. As the extension date drew near with no signs of anyone stepping up with cash, city staff became increasingly antsy, and Bryden insisted “It’s going fine.”

In August, following presentations by a waste expert who urged them to do otherwise, the city’s environment committee gave Plasco yet another extension — 16 more months to rustle up the moolah. The clock is now ticking down to December 31, 2014.

Opponents say it’s time to pull the plug. Proponents argue the city has nothing to lose. And Bryden? He says simply that he has underestimated the challenges in bringing enough investors on board.

As we wait to see what happens next, we can at least applaud the amount of hot air created around this project — even before the plant is up and running.

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WEB EXCLUSIVE: Chris Turner’s War on Science a convincing take on Harper’s policy

By Nicholas Savage

Chris Turner is angry. Having read his recent book, The War on Science, not only do I understand his anger, I also share it. While I have a great respect for faith and organized religion, I have never considered myself a ‘person of faith’, having no real convictions that I felt were beyond question.  Thanks to Turner’s book, I now know I was wrong.

While I’m familiar with ‘The Enlightenment’, that period of European history when writers and scientists threw off the shackles of religion’s stranglehold on knowledge and began to understand their world through the application of science and reasoned arguments, I didn’t recognize it as the birthplace for a belief that, thanks to Turner, I now realize is sacrosanct to me.  Simply put, I believe that decisions about how we as people interact with each other and the natural world should be governed by rational ideas derived from evidence. When applied to governance, those with decision-making powers should be beholden to those who gather information and process it in order to make the right informed choices.

Chris Turner

Chris Turner

At its core, The War on Science is an indictment of the Harper Conservative government for its betrayal of this ideal: not only are facts and evidence ignored when formulating policy, but scientists and institutes that may disagree with their irrational aims are routinely muzzled or find their funding put through the shredder.

Turner does an excellent job as prosecutor, noting how Harper and Co. began during their minority government days to slowly dismantle scientific research and fact gathering resources with measures like “the elimination of the Office of the National Science Advisor … and the tabling of a sweeping crime bill that went against decades of research.”

Then Harper finally won his majority and the floodgates were opened.  Bill C-38, the first ‘omnibus’ budget bill, gutted the Fisheries and Oceans Act, “reducing its mandate from all fish habitat to only that of “valuable” fish populations…” Now I’m no scientist, but I have seen enough Planet Earth to know that ecosystems are rather delicate, and that the life of so-called “valuable” species are linked to other, non-valuable ones. We eat fish, but they also eat fish and other organisms we don’t eat.  I could easily explain this concept to an 8 year old, so what are Conservatives not getting?

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: Frankly, do you give a damn?

Frank Magazine returns today in an online subscription format. The site is set to launch in a few hours with a bonus gift for the first hundred subscribers—a belly bobble Rob Ford doll. Follow twitter.com/FrankMagOnline for updates. From our Winter 2012 archives, here is a column on notable incidents in the history of the publication.

By Fateema Sayani

Pollster. Incentivise. Pop-up.

Then there’s the use of “full disclosure” to reveal irrelevant information. That’s my short list of annoyances when it comes to the tired language that’s used in media. That list is the kind of thing that would appear in Cliché-o-Matic, one of Frank magazine’s beloved features, along with the well-read Remedial Media section, which was full of insider newsroom gossip and juicy stories of inglorious mess-ups.

Politicians were also great fodder for the magazine, which was founded in 1987 in Halifax (and the Ottawa edition in 1989) by three ex-pat Brits who took their lampooning cues from the U.K. mag Private Eye. Byron Muldoon and Jean Crouton (Canada’s 18th and 20th prime ministers in Frank-speak) were favourite targets. The Ottawa edition folded in 2004, and its web edition shut down in 2008, likely a relief to Stephen Harper, who mostly escaped the low-level photoshopping and sophomoric name-calling that were Frank trademarks.

Marlen Cowpland was a favourite target

Marlen Cowpland was a favourite target of Frank Magazine, which recently returned as an online publication.

Harper has been spending time in the North, so maybe he’ll get the pet name Stevie Harpoon in a revived Frank. It’s the kind of nickname that reeks of imperial irony and makes people uncomfortable and titillated — the same factors that jolted sales of the irreverent twice-monthly publication, which sold 20,000 copies of each edition at its peak.

We hear tell that Frank magazine will return as a paid-subscription website in 2013. When asked, Michael Bate — who ran Frank in its various formats since 1989 — would say only, “It’s premature to be saying much,” though he has been meeting with his former co-conspirators and going over the back-end files of efrank.ca, the magazine’s former site. It was created in Flash Player, a format that’s fussy and problematic with today’s Apple devices.

When Bate killed the web edition of Frank four years ago, he sent a letter to subscribers saying that he couldn’t reach profitability. Besides, the web wasn’t enough of a lure for Bate. “The idea of working 12- to 15-hour days on a glorified blog didn’t appeal to me,” he told the Toronto Star at the time.

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MAN VS. BEAST: In the wake of elk shooting, a link to our spring feature on Ottawa’s struggle to come up with an effective wildlife strategy

By Ron Corbett

Forget about coyote sightings in Nepean and moose on the loose in Bell’s Corners. Forget about fishers dining on house pets in West Carleton and black bears meandering down Moodie Drive. For that matter, forget about beavers, white-tailed deer, the elusive eastern Ontario cougar, eels caught in a water filtration plant below Parliament Hill, and turkeys terrorizing senior citizens in Barrhaven. If you really want to know how plentiful and absurd wildlife stories can be in Ottawa, start with a robin.

Despite its geographic location, the city currently does not have a wildlife strategy — or a single worker tasked to handle wildlife strategies. Illustration by Anthony Tremmaglia.

Actually, let’s back up a little and start with a chipping sparrow. In June of last year, sightings of chipping sparrows along Holmwood Avenue sparked a row between some Glebe residents and a contractor hired to remove a stand of trees at Lansdowne Park as part of the redevelopment of the park. Chipping sparrows are migratory birds and, as such, are protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act. According to the residents, if chipping sparrows were living in those trees, then work at Lansdowne had to stop.

To make their point, they chained themselves to trees, gave media interviews, and taped pages from the Dr. Seuss book The Lorax to a fence. Only when it was pointed out to them that chipping sparrows nest in bushes, not trees, did the residents unchain themselves and go home. Surprisingly, no one from the City of Ottawa was able to diffuse the situation. That’s because the city has not a single worker tasked to handle wildlife issues — lots of bylaw officers, but not a single biologist.

Anyway, back to that stand of trees. After the chipping sparrows left, a cardinal’s nest was found. A cardinal is also a migratory bird. Again, it looked as though work at Lansdowne was going to stop until, over the course of several days of round-the-clock surveillance of the nest, no cardinal appeared.

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POLITICS CHATTER: Arguing that the Quebec Charter of Values is more than purely cynical — it’s evil

Valeurs_depliant_version_longue-7.jpgQuebec is engaged in a nice, civil, democratic debate over whether a woman wearing a head scarf should be able to sit in the waiting room of a welfare office, or if a Sikh in a turban is such an outrageous affront to the secular state that he’s unfit to sell you a fishing license.

I find this debate as unbelievable as it is nauseous. If it proves anything, it shows that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a joke, as is the mealy-mouthed knock-off, the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Because if a “charter of rights” is so empty that it can allow blatant and cruel discrimination against visible minorities, it is simply a lie to say that it protects anyone from anything.

The Quebec Charter of Values shows politics at its most cynical. It is an evil document drafted by people with an evil intent.

What people don’t seem to remember is that Quebec invited tens of thousands of French-speaking Muslims to settle in the province. Quebec’s birth rate has been in free-fall for two generations, despite big cash bonuses and, more recently, cheap daycare . More pur lainers are dying than are being born. So Quebec took over immigration from the federal government and invited Francophones to settle in the St. Lawrence Valley.

Very few came from France. Instead, they arrived from former French colonies like Algeria and Lebanon. Unlike the locals, the Muslims, at least in the first generation or two, have lots of kids.

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WIRED FOR SUCCESS: How innovative technologies are shaping Ottawa’s post-secondary institutions

If it’s been a while since you were in college or university, your image of what that looks like might be outdated. Today students and profs alike are on Twitter, courses can be taught online, and instead of soft scribbling in notebooks, you’re more likely to hear the tap-tapping of fingers on laptops. From eTextbooks to virtual campuses, we look at the city’s post-secondary institutions and the super-cool ways they’re using technology.

The University of Ottawa

•  Since September 2011, some professors have been using Top Hat Monocle, a web-based classroom response system that allows professors to ask questions of large classes that students can answer using their mobile devices. Responses are displayed at the front of the lecture hall, which helps profs gauge students’ comprehension, as well as jump-start discussion.

•  In the fall of 2012, the school opened a new fully equipped multimedia conference room. In this lab, professors can test new technologies such as Echo360, a system that allows them to record and edit course content, then publish it so that students can play back lectures and access materials.

•  Professors can take advantage of Techno-Talks, a series of presentations that focus on how technology is used at the university for teaching purposes. For instance, one talk was a show-and-tell session of professors’ favourite teaching and research apps.

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WEB EXCLUSIVE: Community Cup gives newcomers sense of belonging, writes MPP Yasir Naqvi

One of the first things I did when I arrived in Canada was ask to join the track team. There was just one hurdle — all the other guys were about six feet tall. At just 5’7”, I needed to convince the coach I was good enough for the team. “I may have short legs, but I can run really fast,” I remember saying. I tried out, and ended up competing in the 100m, 400m, and 4 x 100m relay, and continued running on the team until graduation.

It was 1988 and I was a 15-year-old high school student at Westlane Secondary School in Niagara Falls. My family had left Pakistan after the government imprisoned my father for leading a pro-democracy march, and we had landed in Canada in the middle of winter.

Like any newcomer, it was a totally new beginning for me — I had to learn English and adapt to a new culture. Like any teenager, I wanted more than anything to belong.  As I was passionate about running, I figured running track would be a good way to help start this process.

This newcomer received the opening pass from Yasir as part of our opening ceremonies in 2010 symbolizing how we all can assist newcomers in achieving their goals.

Being on that track team made all the difference for me. I made new friends, felt valued for my accomplishments, and it instilled in me a real sense of belonging. Later, as an adult, I realized just how much being on the track team helped me integrate.

I still run these days, mostly 5k charity races, but I am just as likely to be found at sports events like the Community Cup, which began as a one-day soccer tournament for newcomers to Ottawa and has grown into a year-round sports program and supports events across Ontario.

We know that meeting established Canadians is essential for newcomer success. In Canada, where lifelong networks are built in hockey dressing rooms and curling rinks, recreational activities are especially important to making valuable contacts.

So one of the Community Cup’s programs  matches  newcomers with people working  in their chosen field such as banking, policing, or nursing to share and develop skills in activities such as volleyball, curling, and cricket. Another program partners newcomers with mentors to volunteer for events like the Terry Fox Run. And it all culminates in the annual Community Cup soccer tournament, bringing together more than 1,500 newcomers and established Canadians.

Team "C-Stars" are an example of how the Community Cup brings people from diverse backgrounds together.

Along with helping with networking, sports programs like the Community Cup can make a big difference in the mental and physical health of newcomers. For many new immigrants, their morale and self-esteem take a big hit as they struggle to find employment or figure out how to fit in.

Sports put everyone on a level playing field, where language and other social barriers are reduced. When I was running track, it didn’t matter where I was born or what kind of accent I had.

Still, many newcomers don’t really think about sports. They often have other things that take priority. But I’ve seen the difference events like the Community Cup can make for newcomers — helping them network, find out about services, and even meet potential employers. More than that, it helps newcomers feel like they belong, and are truly welcome in their new home. And that is a goal worth aiming for.

~ Yasir Naqvi MPP, Ottawa Centre