Here’s What’s Behind The Menard Issue


What’s behind this $300,000 donation to Capital ward from a developer?

Let’s look at the tale of the tape.

An interesting developer that. Doesn’t exactly have the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

Samir Chowieri, the developer behind the donating Katasa Group, has a past criminal record and an unusual business history, Randall Denley reports in the Citizen.

Accordingly, if Capital Councillor Shawn Menard is guilty of anything (and he is guilty of nothing at present), it’s that he’s been a tad naive and ill-informed about Chowieri (or chose not to look very deeply into the donator’s background though Menard said he’d heard rumours of it). Menard also said he was dealing with one of Chowieri’s daughters, not Samir, so that’s okay.

Denley says Menard “proposed” some donation for the ward, but not for the councillor (though the councillor does benefit from the goodwill engendered by the money), Menard said the donation could help calm the waters about Katasa’s controversial development in the councillor’s ward. “Proposed” is an interesting word. “Proposed” from a regular citizen means proposed. But “proposed” from a councillor or any person in power could sound like a really good idea or something else. That said, the donation isn’t a bad idea to create goodwill. But $300,000 is a lot of goodwill.

Menard says the city ethics and legal people approved the donation. But you must wonder how much effort went into the investigation.

The response to the issue from legal is hilarious, written in pure municipalese: ““City staff have reviewed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to ensure the terms of the agreement do not contravene the City’s policies and protocols. Staff’s role is to ensure the city’s interests are safeguarded and that the MOU does not contravene any applicable laws and regulations. City staff also worked to ensure complete transparency with respect to the MOU by way of its presentation to committee and council.”

So that’s a lot of words that mean nothing. It’s an answer that would do Happy Town News proud. So the city reviewed the MOU to ensure the agreement is policy compliant. It doesn’t say that it was or wasn’t compliant, just that it was reviewed. And legal ensures as a rule the city’s interests are covered but doesn’t say that they were or weren’t in this case. And legal was completely transparent in doing its business and arriving at conclusions, whatever they were. Rather sounds like it was written by a nervous lawyer.

Which translated from municipalese to English means that we’re covering our butts in case something goes wrong. Let’s say something that doesn’t commit to anything. Legal was explaining what it does rather than what it did … a distinction not to be lost. Why is legal not being forthright? Is there something not to be forthright about? Why did they not just say something like we reviewed it and the deal was OK. However what we get is words instead of information. Is legal running away from a bad smell? The response would do Sgt. Schultz proud.

There’s one possible avenue that the local media hasn’t explored. Could Menard have been set up?

And who has an interest in seeing Menard in political trouble? The development industry. Could this all have been a snare to catch a perceived enemy of development?

Hard to know. Your agent isn’t as well-founded in nefarious deeds as many but that doesn’t mean one can’t have suspicions. Suspicion is one of the pillars of journalism.

Developers have been known to work on the edges of good ethics before. Ottawans should have been suspicious of one case of a candidate who came out of nowhere with oodles of money, signs and consultant expertise to defeat a councillor the developers didn’t like.

And here’s one you might not know. When the late Senators owner Eugene Melnyk was being castigated by fans and rather well-funded media with the goal of removing him from Dodge (Melnyk Out), the development industry had an interest in that. One of the brotherhood wanted to buy the Senators thereby needing Melnyk out of the way.

Meanwhile, interesting too, is how well-informed some of the high-minded councillors are about this donation. Some of them depend on developer donations to get re-elected so we know where their sentiments reside. And Menard’s political colleagues’ response to all this is “your donation might or might not be unethical councillor so we want a piece of that unethical action, too.” So not only do they get Menard but their wards get a spot of questionable cash, as well. God bless their incredibly small hearts of ice that circulate cold water where others have blood.

What will come of all this? Not much. Menard’s political enemies get him because the councillor has been giving them trouble. It’s Spy Vs. Spy. Politics as bad art rather than function. You got me so I got you. Hee-hee.

Politics is a very nasty endeavour. No wonder good people stay away from it. Who needs this garbage.

So some advice for Menard?

Always look a gift Trojan horse in the mouth.

And keep your right by your chin.

Ken Gray

Ottawa city legal department working on Menard case.


Reveal Your Evidence Luloff On $300,000 Deal: THE VOTER

The Spin Is In On $300,000 Donation: BENN

Troster Praises Developers: WHOPPER WATCH

City Council Divides, Left Backs Menard

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1 Response

  1. Theresa says:

    Interesting point of view. Based on what I have read of Councillor Shawn Menard, I believe he has been honest and transparent in all his dealings. But this article does make you wonder about what else might be going on. In any case, if it can be shown once and for all that no pressure was put on the developer to make this donation, it should all go to Councillor Menard’s ward. BTW, I am NOT a resident in his ward, so have no vested interest.

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