Ottawa’s new government must seek common ground


On Thursday, October 20, we were so pleased that Catherine McKenney and Mark Sutcliffe agreed to be with us at our Common Ground debate. It was here that we set out to address the issues we believe are important to our city’s future. We know both as exceptional individuals of character and commitment. They each put themselves forward for public service, and we are all grateful to them for doing so.

We are always told whatever campaign we are in is the most important. But we can all see that this one presents a daunting list of challenges:

  • We are seeking to rebuild from the struggles of the pandemic
  • Residents are still recovering from the lasting impacts of the convoy occupation’s hate, division, and disruption
  • We are also seeing the compounded issues of inflation and the rising cost of living; labour shortages; wealth disparities; supply chain issues; increased demand for under-resourced social services; distrust in public institutions, and more.  

At the same time, we have an extraordinary opportunity to build forward better, together, as we race into this time of transformation.  

United Way East Ontario, Ottawa Board of Trade, and the Ottawa and District Labour Council recognize that this moment requires a united front. We must find the things that connect us and align on shared goals—despite our differences—to build stronger, healthier communities for everyone.  

A photo of the debate partners.

We must persistently seek out and struggle for common ground, in the face of division.

Social justice, labour rights, and economic development are often positioned as distinct goals–sometimes even conflicting goals. It is our contention however, that one cannot be traded off in favour of any other; they can, and must, be pursued at the same time. 

Indeed, each of Ottawa’s top-polling mayoral candidates have understandably positioned this election as a choice—a choice of opposing visions. That is the dynamics of politics.

But after today’s election, the task of getting elected will give way to the challenge of governing.

The two mayoral candidates on stage during the event.

Our last City Council and this campaign have been divisive. So, with our Common Ground debate, we felt it important to engage candidates and seek an understanding about how, as Mayor, they would address our city’s complex issues.

Just as we three seemingly different organizations found common ground to advocate for some of the toughest issues our community faces, so too must our new city government. We have heard from candidates that their approach will be collaborative–and we look forward to seeing that under new leadership.

So for whoever is next to occupy the Mayor’s chair, the task of achieving your campaign vision will now become about the how. It becomes about leading your Council. It becomes about persuading a divided electorate, building consensus, changing systems, and at times, compromising on your vision.   

We see your ambition to forge a brighter path and we look forward to working with you in the days, months, and years to come.

Michael Allen

By Michael Allen
President and CEO
United Way East Ontario




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