• Remembering Heather Crowe, Smoke-Free Ontario advocate

    From time to time I’m asked, particularly by students, what one action I’m most proud of as a politician.

    And I always answer that it was having the opportunity to implement the Smoke Free Ontario Act, as Ontario’s first minister of Health Promotion back in 2006.

    But while I had the honour of making sure this important law was implemented, the true credit for this ground breaking piece of legislation rests with a humble, and courageous waitress named Heather Crowe.

    Heather was a kind, soft spoken hospitality worker who I first got to know when she waitressed at The Newport Restaurant on Richmond Road in Westboro.

    She had worked for 40 years in the restaurant industry, and never smoked a day in her life.

    Yet for those four decades she was exposed to that awful blue haze known as second hand smoke.

    It seems unbelievable today, but it wasn’t that long ago that you could light up a cigarette in virtually any public place such as a dining hall or a bar. How many remember that famous line when entering an eatery: “smoking or non-smoking section?”

    Heather was diagnosed with stage 3B non small cell lung cancer in the upper lobe of her left lung in 2002.

    Yet instead of bemoaning the fact that she had a serious health challenge, she quickly became one of the most effective advocates for a smoking ban in public places.

    She traveled the country and spoke to politicians, service clubs, and anti smoking groups and eventually had the opportunity to speak with Dalton McGunity, who at the time was Leader of the Opposition and putting together his platform for the 2003 campaign.

    Due to her passion and personal story, her quest for a smoke free Ontario found its way into McGuinty’s platform. The campaign promise made its way into a bill, which passed and became law on May 31, 2006.

    I can still recall the outrage some restaurant and bar owners had towards the legislation, saying that it would kill their business and that thousands would lose their jobs.  Of course this did not happen, and today there are more people working in these establishments than ever before.

    Sadly, Heather passed away in 2006 just a few weeks before the legislation came into effect, but thanks to her advocacy and her own personal courage and fight, Ontario lead the country with the toughest and most progressive anti smoking legislation. A decade after her passing, her voice is as strong as ever.

    On May 31, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Smoke Free Ontario Act, and I know that this one act has and will continue to save lives of both patrons and hospitality workers who are no longer subjected to the dangers of second hand smoke.

    So when I have the opportunity to talk to students about what I’m most proud of, I also take the time to thank Heather for her courage and determination. Her actions have given waiters and waitresses the right to go work in a safe and healthy environment, while eliminating the risk of second-hand smoke illness and death in the workplace.

  • Divya Massilamani, outstanding youth volunteer, receives Mayor’s City Builder Award

    Mayor Jim Watson and Innes Ward Councillor Jody Mitic presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Divya Massilamani at today’s City Council meeting.

    Ms. Massilamani is currently a third-year Bachelor of Science student at the University of Ottawa. She has known for most of her life that she wants to be a physician, but her volunteer work with children at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in the Oncology and Hematology department since 2011 has inspired her to work towards becoming a pediatrician specializing in oncology.

    Her wide-ranging volunteer work includes:

    • Assisting residents of the Leisureworld Caregiving Centre Madonna long-term care community in Orléans with activities, meals and transportation
    • Helping young patients in the Oncology and Hematology unit at CHEO
    • Helping children with special needs at the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre preschool and summer school programs
    • Offering her help as an English as a Second Language (ESL) tutor to students at Carine Wilson Secondary School through the Literacy Partners program, specifically helping high-school students to prepare for the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test, a requirement for graduation
    • At UOttawa, working as the treasurer of the World Vision Club and the treasurer/secretary of The Abhiladasha Project, both non-profit associations that help families and children. World Vision battles poverty, while the Abhiladasha Project helps provide education to children with special needs. She also volunteers at the Piano Pedagogy Research Laboratory.

    She has received many awards for her hard work, dedication and hundreds of hours of volunteering. Notably, last year she received the United Way Community Builder Award for her work with older adults at the Leisureworld Caregiving Centre Madonna, and her name has recently been added to the United Way Wall of Inspiration at City Hall. She also received the 2015 Hospital Auxiliary Association of Ontario Student Award for her service at CHEO.

  • Mayor’s Annual Canada Day Celebration for Seniors

    I am hosting my Annual Canada Day Celebration for Seniors on Friday, July 1 from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at the Aberdeen Pavilion, Lansdowne Park. 1015 Bank Street, Ottawa.

    Tickets are required for entry and to claim prizes. There is limited free parking for ticket holders from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tickets are available now by calling the City of Ottawa at 613-580-2424, ext. 25683 or by emailing protocolrsvp@ottawa.ca by Wednesday, June 22. They will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis, with a limit of two tickets per person.

    A limited number of tickets will be available to couples celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in 2016.

    I look forward to seeing you there!

    Click on the image below to see the poster and additional information.

    Canada Day EN


  • Registration now open for Tourism Summit on May 30

    The City of Ottawa and Ottawa Tourism, in partnership with the Economic Club of Canada, will hold a Tourism Summit on May 30, bringing together tourism experts, stakeholders, businesses, and the general public to examine Ottawa’s tourism industry beyond 2017. The summit, part of Tourism Week in Canada, is sponsored by the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association and the Shaw Centre.

    “Next year is our big year as we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. As the nation’s capital, Ottawa will be the epicentre of attractions for visitors from Canada and around the world, and the resulting boost to the local economy will be significant,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “In the lead up to this milestone year, the City and its partners want to look at ways to sustain the momentum and keep drawing visitors back to our beautiful city for years to come.”

    “We look forward to having a wide variety of businesses with a stake in tourism attend the Tourism Summit because everyone has a perspective on how to make Ottawa a stronger destination,” said Michael Crockatt, President & CEO of Ottawa Tourism. “It will provide a forum for networking and a synergy of ideas that will propel Ottawa to greater destination success and, ultimately, increased visitation and cachet for Ottawa.”

    The Tourism Summit will discuss what happens after 2017 and will be held in two parts. Part one will be the Tourism Outlook Luncheon, which will be a paid ticketed event ($75 +HST) and will feature:

    • Moderated by Councillor Jean Cloutier, an armchair discussion with Mayor Jim Watson and Michael Crockatt, President & CEO of Ottawa Tourism, on their vision for the industry.
    • A panel discussion on how Ottawa can leverage 2017 to build long-term strength, moderated by Guy Laflamme, Executive Director of Ottawa 2017. Panelists will include:
      • David Goldstein, President & CEO of Destination Canada
      • Charlotte Bell, President & CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada
      • Daniel Gélinas, former CEO of Québec 400
      • Katherine Henderson, CEO of Curling Canada

    Part two of the summit, after the luncheon, is a facilitated workshop examining the results of the DestinationNEXT Survey, an initiative of the City of Ottawa and Ottawa Tourism. The survey was completed by hundreds of stakeholders impacted by tourism – including businesses, government and academic institutions – and asked questions about governance, attractions, accommodations and visitor experience.

    Registration is required whether participants want to attend one or both parts of the summit. Deadline for online registration is May 26.

  • #Ottawa4FortMac tickets now on sale

    Today, Mayor Jim Watson and Ottawa Senators player Chris Phillips announced that #Ottawa4FortMact tickets are now on sale. They are in limited quantities and can be purchased online at www.JimWatsonOttawa.ca/Ottawa4FortMac, at Big Rig locations and at the Mayor’s office at City Hall, at the cost of $ 80 each.

    #Ottawa4FortMac is a fundraising event in support the Canadian Red Cross’s emergency appeal and the United Way’s relief efforts directed towards helping the residents of Fort McMurray rebuild their lives and their community.

    Together, Mayor Watson and Chris Phillips are committed to helping those who have been affected by the devastating Fort McMurray fires, and invite you to join them by attending #Ottawa4FortMac.

    The fundraiser will feature an evening of live country music with Kira Isabella, River Town Saints,  The Abrams, Meghan Patrick and Jordan McIntosh, as well as western-themed activities, and refreshments from Ottawa’s craft breweries and offerings from Ottawa’s pizzerias. The fundraiser is taking place on Wednesday, June 8 at the Aberdeen Pavilion, 1000 Exhibition Way, from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.


  • Al and Betty Arseneault, Crystal Beach–Lakeview outdoor rink volunteers, receive Mayor’s City Builder Award

    Mayor Jim Watson and Bay Ward Councillor Mark Taylor presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Al and Betty Arseneault at today’s City Council meeting.

    The Arseneaults are longtime residents of Crystal Beach-Lakeview. Their love of outdoor sports – hockey, skating and curling in particular – fondness for their neighbourhood, and enthusiasm for building community come together in their commitment as volunteers, working with the City’s Seasonal Recreation branch, to construct, create and maintain an outdoor arena and separate three-sheet curling rink in Lakeview Park each winter.

    Al is well known as the first volunteer rink operator in the city to get his boards in place, the first to coax skate-worthy ice out of an early cold snap, the most meticulous at maintaining the ice (it’s near NHL quality), and very quick to clear any snowfall. This means the retired public servant has to make himself available 24/7 during the outdoor skating season to flood and groom the ice, sometimes trucking loads of Zamboni ice shavings from nearly indoor arenas to fill in spots after a melt. Al also helps the Seasonal Recreation staff to train and coach new rink volunteers each fall at the start of the winter season.

    The curling rink has three full-size sheets with all the correct markings, and the Arseneaults host an annual Lakeview Outdoor Bonspiel that is always fully booked with enthusiastic curlers from all over the Ottawa Valley. Local indoor curling clubs lend the rocks for curling events.

    Thanks to Al and Betty, Crystal Beach-Lakeview and area residents, from young kids wobbling on their first pair of skates to seniors enjoying a game of shinny, are fortunate enough to have free high-quality winter recreation opportunities at their local park.

    The Mayor’s City Builder Award is a civic honour created to recognize an individual, group or organization that has, through outstanding volunteerism or exemplary action, demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to making our city a better place today and for the future. This may include lifelong service, outstanding acts of kindness, inspiring charitable work, community building or other exemplary achievements.

    Individuals, groups or organizations may be nominated by members of City Council or the public.

    The award is presented at the beginning of each City Council meeting.

  • Mayor Watson announces Ottawa4FortMac, a fundraiser in support of the Fort McMurray relief efforts

    Today at City Council, Mayor Jim Watson and Ottawa Senators player Chris Phillips announced Ottawa4FortMac, a fundraising event in support of the Fort McMurray relief efforts. The fundraising event is the Mayor’s direct response to the tragedy that is taking place in Fort McMurray. As a Fort McMurray native and Ottawa resident, Chris Phillips is eager to partner with the City on this initiative.

    Together, Mayor Watson and Chris Phillips are committed to helping those who have been affected by the devastating Fort McMurray fires, and invite you to join them by attending #Ottawa4FortMac.

    The fundraiser will feature an evening of live country music, a pizza dinner catered by local pizzerias, local craft beer sampling and western-themed activities such as wild mechanical bull rides. The fundraiser is taking place on Wednesday, June 8 at the Aberdeen Pavilion, 1000 Exhibition Way, from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

    Tickets will be available for purchase early next week.