THE JESTER: Beware! The year is 2017 … Partisan ghost stories for politicians of every stripe

This article was originally published in the October 2014 print edition of Ottawa Magazine.

By CHRIS LACKNER

Justin Trudeau . Illustration by Alan King

Justin Trudeau . Illustration by Alan King

24 Sussex Drive, Halloween Night, 2014 — The Conservative cabinet gathers for its annual Halloween sleepover. Prime Minister Harper, sporting his standard grey “bedtime suit,” launches into a partisan ghost story:

“Beware! The year is 2017, and the ‘Trucair’ Liberal-NDP coalition government has destroyed the Canada we know and love.

“Prime Minister Trudeau has legalized marijuana, renovated the Peace Tower to look like a giant bong, and appointed Vancouver actor Seth Rogen as Governor General. Every Speech from the Throne now consists of a glassy-eyed, smirking Rogen eating Doritos and chuckling for 40 minutes straight. Oh, and our new national anthem is Neil Young’s ‘Roll Another Number (for the Road).’

“But things are even worse away from the Hill. The National War Memorial has been replaced with a statue depicting Trudeau’s knockout punch of Patrick Brazeau. Deputy Prime Minister Thomas Mulcair has passed a law requiring all men, women — and children — to have either a beard or a moustache and has replaced the caribou on the quarter with a unicorn. The Ministry of Finance has been rechristened the Ministry of Imagination. The ever-rising tax rate has closed the doors of just about any business that isn’t a marijuana shop or taco stand. Productivity is at an all-time low! Our perpetually stoned bureaucrats stay focused only on days where they’re promised a free pizza lunch. And on the international front, we stood powerless to prevent Trudeau from pirouetting behind the newly crowned King Charles and then opting to play his head like a bongo drum.

“Trudeau has also taken his control-freak antics to a whole new level by banning any future Liberal candidate who doesn’t believe in a woman’s right to choose whether to swoon or squeal whenever he enters the room.

“And that’s why Canadians need our treats, not Liberal and NDP tricks … .”

Meanwhile, at the Diefen-bunker The Liberals gather for a top-secret candle-lit meeting. Justin Trudeau makes a scary flashlight face before launching into a partisan ghost story:

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WEB EXCLUSIVE: Breather brings ‘peace and quiet, on-demand’ to Ottawa

William Johnson is an Ottawa-based blogger who writes at notionport.org about creative people doing creative things.

You’re a professional on the go. You’re sick of holding meetings in coffee shops; you’re sick of taking phone-calls on the bus or on the noisy street; or perhaps you’re just looking for somewhere to rest — somewhere to take a break. Enter Breather, the latest firm to add mass to Ottawa’s sharing economy. Breather, founded in 2013, allows customers — including individuals and organizations—  to rent well-designed, quiet, Wi-Fi equipped spaces on-demand.

Breather offers

Breather rents out well-designed, quiet, wi-fi equipped spaces

Often referred to as an ‘Uber for private spaces’, the service launched here last night with three spaces, one in the ByWard Market (78 George St.), one in the financial district (162 Metcalfe), and a space in Centretown (356 MacLaren). A small party with cocktails and appetizers was held at the Market location, which can hold about 12-15 individuals comfortably; the Metcalfe and McLaren locations hold 4-5 people and 3-4 people, respectively, according to Eric McRae, Breather partner and Ottawa manager, who’d like to see the service expand to have at least six locations.

“I’d like to get another location in the downtown core,” he said. “And then look at some of the other areas like Preston Street, Hintonburg, Westboro as well, so that we can provide a network of spaces where people can access them.”

This

This Breather space at 78 George in the ByWard Market is a bright, chic place for meetings 

To use the service, users simply download an app (available on iOS and Android), pull up a map — similar to how other peer-to-peer economy apps, including Uber and Airbnb work — and reserve a space. “Grab your phone, open an app. Reserve a room near you, anytime, anywhere,” is how founder Julien Smith put when he announced the service over a year ago, which originally launched in Montreal and San Francisco, then made it’s way to New York City. Ottawa, perhaps unexpectedly, can now count itself among three of the worlds most sophisticated cities that have the service.

“They weren’t looking at Ottawa initially,” says McRae. “I approached them, and asked them, because I recognized that there’s a certain market opportunity in Ottawa. It’s a very different city, and it has different needs and different demands from some of the larger cities, but I thought that the market could still really support it…somewhere where people can just kind of stop, connect, take a break, relax, or just to focus on their work.”

The company describes its spaces as ‘agnostic’, as in noncommittal to specific uses. Breather does, however, assess certain city factors before selecting potential spaces, including urban density, traffic, and levels of pedestrian movement.

“What I loved about Breather is that it takes a centralized come-to-my-office type of space, and explodes it out across the city so it becomes local and close to where you want and need to be,” said McRae. “So it’s not necessarily prescribed to a specific location.”

“When I was discussing that concept with [founder] Julien Smith, that’s what really caught my attention,” he said. “It becomes what you need it to be.”

McRae leases and has revenue sharing agreements with Breather with the spaces he manages, and he sees appealing to diverse segments of the population from lawyers, to creatives, to regular people. “Lawyers, who are travelling from other cities, from other places to work in Ottawa, they need places to meet with clients. We look at psychologists and people who are in therapy—they need access to spaces that are close to their clients,” he said.

“Accountants who work from home, and need to meet with their clients once or twice a year—they can easily book a space for those things.  And for myself, what I liked about Breather was that the spaces were really designed in such a way that they can be used based on what your needs are, not necessarily prescribed based on the set-up of the design.”

Breather spaces in Ottawa are available for $20/hour, seven days a week, and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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THE GIVER: Tree Huggers, Texting B-Fasts, and Giving Tuesday

The Giver is written by Ottawa Mag’s Dee Campbell, who knows that people prefer to volunteer in ways that speak to their interests. Dee has volunteered for the Terry Fox Run since she was a little girl and is a Brownie Leader of 15 years. Do you have a volun-gig needing filled? Email dcampbell@stjosephmedia.com.

Hug a Tree

This week, Ecology Ottawa planted the first of 1,000,000 trees to be planted as Ottawa’s gift to Canada for its 150th anniversary in 2017, and to restore Ottawa’s forest canopy. But these babies need some TLC, i.e. Ottawa residents to nurture young trees until they reach maturity. Once you’ve found a tree you would like to adopt on the map or app, you can update its profile to include its species, height, diameter, etc. You can even add pictures of your tree and include a comment about why this tree is important to you.

 

TEXT2DONATE

Gee. That was easy.

Curb Hunger With Your Cell Phone

Pause with me for a second. Try to remember a time when you were really hungry. Like, when you were doing a cleanse, or you forgot to bring food somewhere, or you were in first trimester pregnancy, or… Got it? Okay, now read this: 1 in 10 kids goes every day without breakfast. That’s a lot — especially since the last meal most kids would’ve eaten was probably dinner the night before. If you have $5 to spare, you can feed one kid breakfast for one week. Yup.

Text BREAKFAST to 45678 to donate $5 to Breakfast Clubs of Canada.

With a $5 donation, the Ottawa Food Bank can buy $25 worth of food. Text HUNGRY to 45678 to donate $5.

Text MEAL to 45678 to donate $10 to The Ottawa Mission Foundation.

Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa
BELONG to 41010.
BELONG to 41010.

And just to dispel any myths about texting donations:

1. Wireless operators do not take any portion of funds donated through text messages. They support mobile giving programs for free.

2. With the exception of the donation itself, you do not incur any text messaging fees associated with initiating and completing a text message donation. Talk about consumer friendly!

 

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and now, Giving Tuesday.

Qu’est-ce c’est? It’s a new Canadian movement for giving and volunteering, taking place each year after Cyber Monday. So just as Black Friday kicks off the holiday shopping season, Giving Tuesday marks the opening day of the giving season. How awesome is that?! 

Here’s an interesting volun-gig, in preparation for the day: Healthy Minds is looking for a creative and social media-savvy individual who is passionate about mental health and addictions to build their Giving Tuesday campaign. Read more here. Commitment: from now to December 2.

MONEY: Who Makes What?

BY ROGER COLLIER

Originally published in the October 2014 print edition of Ottawa Magazine as part of our Money Talks feature.

The pressure on professional athletes to perform is routinely dissected by deliverable. What if desk jockeys were paid this way? Ottawa Magazine pokes fun at our fascination with six-figure incomes by crunching the salaries — and output — of the city’s top earners.

 

MONEY: Generation Executor — an unofficial guide to handling your parent’s estate

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