Audience gets feisty at candidate debate

Stittsville debate. Guy with "Lower Hydro Rates" sign.

Thursday night’s Stittsville ward debate was full of interruptions, accusations and arguing. And that was just from the audience.

About 150 people filled the community hall at Johnny Leroux Arena to watch the first live public debate between Dave Lee and Shad Qadri, the two men running to represent Stittsville on city council. The debate was organized by the Stittsville Village Association (SVA).

The crowd directed anger at both candidates and at one point even towards the moderator, former Goulbourn Township councillor Louise Beggs.

When Beggs cut off a questioner who’d gone beyond the 45-second limit, a woman in the back of the hall yelled “so much for democracy”.

The candidates didn’t shake hands before or after the debate, but they were respectful to each other during the event.

In his closing remarks, Lee said “at some point Shad stopped working for us and started working for the Mayor.”  Qadri said that the job of city councillor is “not about pointing fingers, but working together with the community.”

Behind the scenes, Lee’s supporters complained to SVA president Phil Sweetnam when Georgie Gosham-Hamer, a member of Qadri’s office staff and Stittsville resident,  got up to ask a question.  The moderator allowed the question, but asked Gosham-Hamer to identify herself.

At several points during the debate, Amy Leindecker, a volunteer with Lee’s campaign, yelled “shame” from the back of the room.

Planted questions and co-ordinated heckling are common political tactics at public debates.  Still, it was an unusally boisterous public meeting for Stittsville.

Stittsville debate on Thursday, October 9
Stittsville debate on Thursday, October 9


The two candidates covered a lot of ground in a debate that lasted just over an hour.  They answered questions from at least 15 audience members on topics ranging from Orgaworld to food trucks. Here are selected quotes from the debate.


  • Qadri: “I asked for the plan to improve Main Street. It hasn’t developed over the past few years. We need business and the community to work together. The community was not happy with the staff recommendations and it has gone back to staff.”
  • Lee: “You’ve been in office for eight years and I haven’t seen changes on Stittsville Main Street.”


Both candidates would support a ban.


  • Lee: “Residents are not informed.  More transparency is needed. Are we getting full and timely info?”
  • Qadri: “The City only owns four to five feet on each side of the (Trans Canada) trail.  Landowners petitioned the City to dry the land and the city had no choice because of provincial regulations.  The City must work with the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority and the Ministry of Natural Resources.”


(The questioner said it took her 2.5 hours on Tuesday morning to get to work, and she nearly missed the debate because of traffic getting home.)

  • Lee: “On peak hour express buses, we need two to three extra runs. My son is a Carleton student, and the real issue is off-hours service. The 96 is a milk run. We are paying the full transit tax in this ward and we are not getting the service.”
  • Qadri: “I have been working with city council and staff for better transit.  I worked with private partners to build the Park & Ride at Canadian Tire Centre to save money. I ride the bus on a regular basis…  Going back to 2004-05, (the Stittsville) community said ‘we don’t want bus service’, but now we are seeing higher ridership.  We are adding more service in January coming up.”


  • Qadri: “I opposed expansion since day one. I supported a motion … with six conditions that council approved that are included in the license to operate… that was our way of making sure we hold their feet to the fire.”
  • Lee: “If you were against the dump expansion, Mr. Qadri, you could have just put in a token no vote…  I’m against it.”

(Qadri also said he’d attended every community meeting regarding the landfill.  When Lee was asked a second time about what he has done to prevent the landfill, he said “I haven’t done anything, I’m a businessman”.)


  • Qadri: “I’m in favour of traffic circles.  Businesses on Carp Road are concerned that large trucks won’t be able to navigate the roundabouts.  City staff looked at it and can make accommodations like at Shea and Fernbank.  I will oppose a plan with lights.”
  • Lee: “Can you imagine having to navigate three roundabouts along Carp Road, coming off the Queensway?  Sixty businesses on Carp Road are opposed. You have to listen to business.”


  • Lee: “With calls dropping considerably and $1.7-billion debt, I don’t see the need to increase budget and hire more officers. (I want to) create entertainment-based businesses so youth aren’t just hanging out at Timmy’s or McDonald’s.”
  • Qadri: “Over and over and over again I hear from our residents that we need policing.  Calls may be down, but crime is not.”


  • Lee: “If Orgaworld was negotiated properly, we wouldn’t have this problem.  Don’t use an 18th century solution – don’t bury it.  We need to look at high efficiency incineration.”
  • Qadri: “In Ontario you cannot do incineration unless you reach 60% diversion in household garbage.  The only way to reach 60% is with bi-weekly garbage and green bin.”


The questioner asked: “If I have to pay property taxes in two wards, why can’t I vote in both wards?”

Both Lee and Qadri agreed to look into it.  Qadri pointed out that it was an issue that would have to be addressed by the provincial election act.


  • Lee: The candidate pulled out a map of the 2008 Transportation Master Plan (TMP), showing bus rapid transit from Fernbank to downtown.  He pulled out another map of the 2013 TMP with the route removed.  “It’s not there.”
  • Qadri: “The plan was for a bus rapid transit corridor along the north-south arterial to Fernbank.  The City did remove it, but the TMP is reviewed every five years.  You have to look at the cost.  You can’t afford everything at once.  Why build bus rapid transit when you have LRT scheduled for 2031?”
  • Lee: “That’s 15 years. If we’re paying the same transit rate as the rest of the city, why are we getting short changed?”
  • Qadri: “I don’t dream, I work with facts.  Orleans has the highest ridership, so they get higher service.  In Stittsville, ridership wasn’t there, infrastructure isn’t there – not until the north-south arterial.  You can’t afford everything.”


  • Lee: “Absolutely not.  Amalgamation has been horrible for outlying wards.”  (Lee then mentioned the cost of a new downtown library and the Arts Court redevelopment.)
  • Qadri: “We did not get a fair return. But roads have been upgraded. The city has spent $100-million on roads.”


  • Qadri: “I supported the 2012 wildlife strategy.  The province dictates to us and the city has to follow.  Developers and landowners follow.”

(At this point, a woman yelled “protect the animals!” and the questioner said “Animals will literally be bulldozed to death”)

  • Lee: “Developers are running rampant in this city.  They have a green flag to do whatever they want…. They are ramming approvals through.”


  • Qadri: “It is a free enterprise.  Private business control their property. For example, the Rona parking lot.”


(This question came from Allan Ryan, a former Goulbourn Township councillor.)

  • Qadri: “No implication in the auditor’s report suggests that councillors didn’t do their jobs.  I was not happy with the length of the contract. It should have been a five-year contract.  Orgaworld wanted a 20-year contract to set up as a capital investment. I depend on expert reports.  That contract may not give any more information than what the report gave me.”
  • Lee: “Gord Hunter (former city councillor) spoke up.  22 of 23 councillors approved Orgaworld.  You ignored legal counsel for a ramp-up period.”
  • Qadri: “In the next term we will discuss the contract and if it can be changed. I want to include biodegradable bags for composting.”


(Another question from Ryan.)

  • Qadri: “Transparency: in the last four to five years, we have added an integrity commissioner, disclosure, a lobby registry, council meetings are televised.  Committee meetings should be televised.  There’s nothing at City Hall that doesn’t come to the public.  Decisions are made in a democratic way in council.”
  • Lee: “That still doesn’t explain why debates are 20 minutes.”
  • Qadri: “Debate happens in committee.”

Tomorrow: Notes from the school board trustee debates.

Were you at the debate?  What did you think of the answers from the candidates?  Add your comments below or email


Shad Qadri
Shad Qadri


Dave Lee
Dave Lee

11 thoughts on “Audience gets feisty at candidate debate”

  1. Sadly, Mr. Lee shows his total ignorance of how City Hall Works. We may not agree with many things about City hall but it is important to understand that one councillor is part of the family of 22 Councillors sitting around the Council table. Each having to work together and COMPROMISE when necessary, Mr. Lee needs to understand that he needs to get down and dirty and get really involved in his community if he ever hopes to govern it,

    1. And did Mr. Qadri know everything about city hall 8 years ago? I think not. Time for a change. Don’t keep doing the same thing every time and expect different results. Step aside Mr. Qadri, and let someone else take a crack at city hall. Yours is not a job but a community service. Respect your constituents.

      1. i think the difference between Lee today and Shad 8 years ago was that before Shad ran for council, he had already racked up years of experience with the SVA as a member of the executive, and, if I am not mistaken, president. He also sat on local school parent committees as a community representative (I know, I sat beside him on those committees for years). He had organized, or helped organize community events. His store became a drop in for local residents who spent hours discussing the community, its problems and possible solutions. So as a new Councillor 8 years ago, Shad had years of varied community service under his belt. While Lee has some good ideas today, he seems to only see things from the perspective of a business man. I think he needs a broader experience base, to see issues and address problems from a variety of perspectives, before he can say he represents the people of Stittsville.

  2. How very unfortunate that Mr. Brummel feels that he has to call Mr. Lee “ignorant” of how things work at city hall. True Mr. Qadri is only one of 23 councillors, but does that does not relieve him of his responsibilities to his constitutents, paticularily when it comes to these extremely large contracts. We expect him to not only become of aware of both the benefits and the risks of these, but to speak up on our behalf about them and not just follow the crowd. As someone who worked extensively on Mr. Qadri’s campaign 8 years ago and who is now involved in Mr. Lee’s camapign, I can say from my experience, that Mr. Lee is much more aware of today’s issues than Mr. Qadri was eight years ago about the issues then facing Ward 6.
    Your close friendship with the Qadris aside Mr. Brummel, your comment suggesting that Mr. Lee has not gotten involved in our community is wholly unwarranted given the amount of time he has given our community both through his business and personal commmitments such as coaching youth teams.

  3. Interesting comments. But let’s talk to the facts as opposed to opinions.

    Fact: Mr. Lee was not even considering to run for City Councillor and threw his hat into the ring at the very last moment only because Mr Qadri would have been acclaimed. So in reality, how in tune was Mr. Lee with the issues of Ward 6? His web site states and I quote “Confirming my decision to enter the race is the fact that Councillor Qadri is running unopposed once again” To further prove this point I welcome you to view the Rogers debate where Mr. Lee publicly admitted this and referred to people being crazy if they asked him if he would run for councillor. This was only 1 month ago he made this statement.

    Fact: Mr. Qadri was actively involved in many community associations and organizations, SVA, Rotary etc.. before running for council and therefore was aware of issues that both residents and business owners brought up. The Stittsville Village Association was actively involved and worked with the city during many of the planning applications to help build this community

    Fact: Mr Lee does not belong to any of these community associations or organizations and has never attended a single meeting of these associations organizations.

    Fact: Mr Qadri is still active in these associations and organizations and volunteers his time to groups within the ward such as the Stittsville Foodbank, etc.

    Fact: Mr Lee only ran a business in Stittsville from 2002 to
    2006 at which time he moved his business outside of Stittsville to Kanata. He ran his business in Kanata and not Stittsville from 2006 to 2013.

    Fact: Mr Qadri only operated his business within Stittsvile from 1993 until 2007.

    Fact: Mr Lee openly admitted in a public debate that he never attended one meeting around one of Stittsville largest issues, the Waste Management Landfill Expansion. Mr Lee’s response was and I quote ” “I haven’t done anything, I’m a businessman” Where was his concern as a resident and for the community?

    Fact: Mr Qadri attended every single community meeting.

    Although Mr. Lee can be commended for volunteering his time coaching children in sports, I fail to see how this involvement reflects the overall needs of all the citizens and their concerns in Stittsville.
    The point that Mr. Lee supports the community through business, I guess is true to a point. Sadly most of that community support was not for the benefit of Stittsville residents and other Stittsville businesses as he moved his business to Kanata.

    I feel that if Mr. Lee truly wants the responsibility associated with this position, it would be in his best interest to show the community his dedication and become a leader within the community by taking the next 4 years to become involved in associations and organizations in Stittsville.

  4. It saddens me to read the vengeful and hurtful comments expressed by Both Mr Brummell and Mr Curry about a prominent Businessman like Mr Dave Lee, who has worked, lived and volunteered extensively in Stittsville for close to 20 years.

    FACT: Shad Qadri threw his hat into the ring 8 years ago, yes as a business owner, NEVER a Resident of Stittsville. It is my understanding that he and his wife only decided to become a resident in recent years.

    FACT: Mr. Dave Lee and his wife have been property owners in Stittsville for over 18 years as well as operating a prominent business in the community. They have raised three boys, who all have been extremely involved in the community via school and various sporting teams.

    Mr. Lee did throw his hat in the ring at the very last moment and for that I applaud him. Standing up for what you believe in, wanting to make his Community a better place and putting yourself in the middle of a political whirlwind is not something everyone is willing to do, let alone being criticized for done it. Mr. Lee has as much experience today as Councilor Qadri had 8 years ago when it comes to understanding the issues and how this city operates. In fact, Mr Lee actually has made a point of educating himself on the issues that potentially impact his community directly.

    FACT: Yes Mr Qadri is and has been a member of various organizations such as SVA, Rotary Club etc. But how does this QUALIFY him to run as a Candidate back then AND now? Does belonging to these organizations QUALIFY a person to ‘get down and dirty’, to be engaged with his Community? Because I definitely have not seen or heard Councilor Qadri taking any hard line decisions when it comes to his ‘extended family’ of Stittsville, especially with regard to such serious issues as,

    1. Carp Rd Landfill – Yes Councilor Qadri spoke out against this proposal at one time, I even attended the Waste Management Project Advisory Committee meetings with him, but his stance and attendance at these meetings has become non existent over the last couple of years. In fact he voted ‘yes’ along with his fellow Councilors on the rezoning of this site, thus allowing the development of the landfill to proceed. For a Councilor who was at one time SO opposed to the landfill you would have expected at least a token ‘NO’.

    2. Orgaworld Contract – Again Councilor Qadri voted ‘yes’ along with his fellow Councilors to a mega contract without even asking pertinent questions OR taking time to read any portion of this contract. I would expect a Councilor to have the same regard in decision making with major City contracts as if they were contracts affecting him personally.

    3. New Developments in Stittsville – I am assuming that Councilor Qadri was instrumental in negotiating with developers regarding the planning for these developments and if so where was he in negotiating infrastructure for the Developing Community lands south and east of the Hartsmere area? Absolutely NO strategy for the new residents to easily leave their community, instead directing them through quiet residential streets with young families to hook up with Main Street. Thus worsening an already bottleneck situation.

    FACT: Yes Mr Lee admitted to not being involved with the Carp Rd Landfill, but does strongly oppose it. Like many residents of Stittsville, Mr Lee has been extremely busy raising his young family, operating a successful business AND volunteering thousands of hours in the community as a Coach for the Goulbourn Basketball League.

    Volunteering in this regard not only engages one with parents of our youth, keeping our youth active, but YES it also makes one aware of various community situations that need help. In fact, over the years, Mr Lee, through his company, IPlay, made numerous donations to the Stittsville Food Bank, Mrs Qadri was President of the Food Bank at the time and well aware of Mr. Lee’s generous contributions.

    FACT: Yes Councilor Qadri still attends many Association Meetings. Is this NOT part of the job of a Councilor?

    FACT: Yes Mr. Lee’s business moved from Iber to Sensplex (a move that took IPlay 150 meters outside of Ward 6) but as any good businessman knows, there are times when sound fiscal, logical and sometimes difficult decisions have to be made. To criticize Mr Lee for a sound personal business decision, is one of the lowest remarks one can make. If one has never been a private business owner, then one does NOT have the right to criticize the logistics of operating a business.

    Did anyone question Councilor Qadri WHY he closed his business in 2007, when he publicly announced that he would continue running his operation? A business decision never criticized!

    FACT: To criticize Mr. Lee of not being a Leader I also find offensive. When in fact he has proven to be that strong voice Stittsville desperately needs by standing up and putting his name on that ballot.

    Councilor Qadri ran 8 years ago promising a two term limit AND here we are going into potentially his third, what kind of Leadership is this, when this AND other promises are broken…..

    So please gentlemen, when taking a preverbal stab at a prominent member of this Community, like Mr. Lee, PLEASE ask the questions to the Candidate directly and get your FACTS straight.

    Marlene Labelle

  5. Dave Lee is energetic, enthusiastic about Stittsville and he’s eager to make a difference. Shad has had two terms and in my opinion it is time for change and a fresh perspective.

  6. The facts stated are in no means an attack on Mr. Lee personally as Ms Labelle suggests.
    The points raised, in my opinion, are ones that need to be considered above and beyond platform statements by the voters of this community. I do believe that community involvement is a prerequisite. It proves your dedication in making the community better. Deciding on what you think is enough involvment is a decision that will be made by the voters.
    Do I think Mr. Lee is a nice person? In my dealings with Mr. Lee through iPlay I can say 100% that both he and his wife were very nice.
    As Ms. Labelle is saddened by venegeful and hurtful comments made about prominent individuals in Stittsville, possibly she could explain the comment made at the beginning of this article
    In his closing remarks, Lee said “at some point Shad stopped working for us and started working for the Mayor.” Qadri said that the job of city councillor is “not about pointing fingers, but working together with the community.”

    and also the one made in an Ottawa Citizen article dated Sept 25th and updated on Oct 6th

    “If you’re not the incumbent, say something nice about the incumbent.

    The incumbent is very active at all community events where there is a camera around. ”

    hmmm….seems those publicly made statements are the good example of vengeful and hurtful comments.

    Regardless, the voters will decide on what they think is best for Stittsville.

    Good luck to both Mr. Qadri and Mr. Lee

  7. In 1997, my family and I first met Shad, as so many other Stittsville residents have, through his business, Showbiz. I was struck over the years how Shad was so involved with all aspects of the community as it grew. He consistently volunteered his time and efforts to help raise money for worthy causes, provide refreshments for community events (CBRA Picnics, SVA, etc), and generally encourage a greater sense of community through his hard work. And all this was long before any political activity. I believe Shad’s involvement in our community comes through a deeply held conviction reflected in the motto of the Rotary group he help to found, “Service above self.” No one should doubt his deep ties to this community.

    I stand in admiration of both our candidates for their accomplishments and willingness to stand for public office. How many of us cough and look the other way when our Scout or Guide groups or sports teams or church or foodbank … are looking for volunteers. Both of our candidates are putting themselves out there – we should not belittle the gumption that takes.

    We can be divided on policy and platform issues but I am deeply saddened when I see personal slights enter politics. As Harper said, “We are opponents but not enemies” (sic). So let’s keep the discussion civil, please ?

    I sure as heck don’t agree with every policy this council has put in place, but for me, personally, I don’t see a mismanaged city desperate for change. I see a generally balanced approach to the competing tensions of fiscal management and investing in infrastructure and services for the community as a whole. In our ward, I see an inevitably changing community challenged by its own growth – but I also see significant efforts and plans to manage the growth to strike a pragmatic balance – and I have seen Shad involved in getting this done (Main Street CDP for example).

    I know that Mr Lee and his supporters obviously feel a different balance is required – that’s their perogative of course. I will be voting for Shad because I have seen that his policies better align with my concerns and I know he takes his commitment to serve ALL our interests very seriously. I know he treats our tax dollars and concerns with respect. That’s what matters to me.

  8. All of my dealings with Shad had been positive until I needed help with a city hall process. I live in Jackson Trails. Minto is proposing a development that contemplates the construction of upwards of 500 new homes and the cars that go along those homes will access them ONLY by using the Hazeldean/Stittsville Main intersection. That means a major traffic increase in our subdivision and, for that reasons, many of my neighbours and I were concerned about the proposal in its original state. At a meeting of the new Jackson Trails Community Association that was held prior to Minto’s statutorily required public meeting, Shad gave us two main pieces of advice and both were poor.

    First, he told us to compromise our requests/demands down to where it was likely that Minto would accept them. While I understand that we, as neighbouring residents, don’t have huge bargaining power in this process, I do know that opening any kind of negotiation from a compromised position is a really poor strategy.

    Second, he advised us to have one spokesman outline all of the issues that we, as a community, wanted to raise. This seemed like sensible advice until we were at the eventual meeting with Minto and our spokesperson was interrupted repeatedly by staff. Minto later commented that having one person outline everything made it very difficult for them to respond.

    The Minto public meeting was eventually adjourned with many residents still waving their hands asking to speak. Who called for the adjournment? None other than Mr. Qadri. The only people that were happy about the abrupt ending (other than City staffers who could then go home to their families) were the Minto representatives in the room.

    Shad, like any elected official, is supposed to be the voice for his constituents. After being involved in the process above, I do not feel that Shad was, in any way, looking out for the residents of Stittsville or Jackson Trails. He tried to convince us to compromise our positions before beginning any kind of dialogue and he advised us to present our concerns in a manner that turned out to be inappropriate and ineffective. It is for those reason that I voted for Dave Lee.

    Oh, and since Mr. Curry has referred to the Sept.25/Oct. 6 Citizen article, i thought I should add my highlight from that one. I was fascinated by Shad’s response to the question of the current council’s greatest failure. He refused to answer. I guess he believes that everything has been perfect.

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