Thanksgiving, advance voting, and a mayoral debate: Five stories to watch in Ottawa this week

Another pandemic Thanksgiving, mayoral candidates meet for a debate, and investigating the use of the Emergencies Act.

CTV News Ottawa looks at five stories to watch in Ottawa this week.

THANKSGIVING

Ottawa is celebrating its third Thanksgiving since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

There are no public health protections mandating any smaller gatherings, but Ottawa Public Health is still recommending precautions for anyone gathering over the long weekend.

“Respiratory illness season has started, and continuing to use the layers of protection we’ve used against COVID-19 will help prevent the spread of other respiratory viruses like colds and the flu,” OPH said.

“Consider gathering outdoors if you’re able. If gathering indoors, opening windows will provide improved ventilation,” Ottawa Public Health said on Thursday.

“We strongly recommend wearing a mask in any indoor and/or crowded public spaces.”

A turkey dinner is seen in this undated file photo. (Engin Akyurt / Pexels)

COVID-19

Levels of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been trending upwards.

Ottawa Public Health announced recently that Ottawa is in a new wave of COVID-19, but no public health protections are mandated.

According to the Ottawa COVID-19 wastewater surveillance project, the seven-day mean viral signal rose through the first three weeks of September, dipped slightly for the final week, and has been trending upward in the first few days of October.

OPH announced Friday that 900 people in Ottawa had died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March 2020. There have been more deaths from COVID-19 so far in 2022 than there were in all of 2021.

Administration of bivalent booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been on the rise, with more than 12,000 bivalent boosters administered in Ottawa the week of Sept. 25, compared to 3,200 the week of Sept. 18. Anyone 18 and older in Ontario can book an appointment to receive a bivalent shot, which protects against omicron strains of COVID-19 as well as the original strain.

Undated photo of hospital beds. (Photo by Pixabay/Pexels)

CTV NEWS OTTAWA HOSTS MAYORAL DEBATE

CTV News Ottawa will host a special mayoral debate on Thursday. The top contenders for mayor will meet to discuss the main issues live during CTV News at Six.

A Nanos Research Poll for CTV News Ottawa showed that Somerset Ward Coun. Catherine McKenney was the top choice for mayor with 29 per cent of respondents naming them as their preferred choice, followed by entrepreneur and broadcaster Mark Sutcliffe with 24 per cent. Nine per cent of respondents said former Ottawa mayor Bob Chiarelli is their preferred choice.

Nearly half of all respondents said experience was important in their choice for mayor.

More details about voters’ top issues will be released this week.

A Nanos Research poll for CTV News Ottawa asked respondents who would you vote for if the Ottawa municipal election was held today. (Nanos Research)

PUBLIC ORDER EMERGENCY COMMISSION

Hearings into the Liberal government’s decision to invoke the never before used Emergencies Act to quell anti-government and anti-public health protests in Ottawa and at national border crossings begin this week.

The Public Order Emergency Commission, led by former Ontario Superior Court justice Paul Rouleau, is scheduled to begin hearings Thursday, with the mandate to assess the government’s use of the Act for the first time since it became law in 1988.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to testify. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and Ottawa City Manager Steve Kanellakos have also indicated they would be speaking before the commission.

Acting director of the Parliamentary Protective Service, Larry Brookson, mentioned Watson and Kanellakos in a committee meeting in late September, saying attempts to reach them during the Freedom Convoy occupation were unsuccessful. Watson’s office and Kanellakos both told CTV News Ottawa they would not comment on Brookson’s claims until they had a chance to testify before the inquiry.

Mayoral candidate Coun. Catherine McKenney cited preparations for testifying at the inquiry as reason for withdrawing from an Ottawa Board of Trade debate on Wednesday. The board of trade cancelled the debate when McKenney said they would not be attending.

The Emergencies Act was invoked in February after three weeks of Freedom Convoy protests including on Parliament Hill, at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ont and the Canada-U.S. border crossing in Coutts, Alta.

Hundreds of trucks remain parked on Wellington Street and surrounding streets in downtown Ottawa on day 10 of the “Freedom Convoy” demonstration in downtown Ottawa. (Josh Pringle/CTV News Ottawa)

ADVANCE POLLS

One more day of advance voting will take place this week ahead of the Oct. 24 municipal election.

More than 45,000 residents, or about six per cent of eligible voters, have cast ballots in five days of advance polling already.

There were four days of special advance voting in September, allowing any resident to vote at any of the eligible polling locations, regardless of their ward. More than 18,000 people voted in those polls from Sept. 24 to 27. Nearly 27,000 people voted in advance polls in their respective wards on Friday.

The final advance voting day is Oct. 14, ten days before election day.

Voters are choosing a new mayor, a ward councillor and a school board trustee.

The Ottawa Elections office on Cyrville Road is seen in this undated file image. (CTV News Ottawa)

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