- Shawn Little
Shawn Little is a former City Councillor in
Ottawa, Canada, for the urban Kitchissippi Ward, consisting of neighbourhoods west of the city core. He was born in Ottawa and raised in Westborowhere he attended Broadview Public School and Nepean High School. He has a History and Political Science degree from Carleton Universityand a Diploma in Health Sciences from Humber College.
He was involved in politics from a young age, having worked for Conservative MP
Walter Bakerat age 16. ["Councillor looks to the future after topsy-turvy career in office" Patrick Dare. "The Ottawa Citizen." Sep 15, 2006. pg. F.1.] He first ran for election in Goulbourn outside of Ottawa in 1988 at age 24. He next ran in the Elmdale Ward in the 1994 municipal election, but lost to incumbent Joan Wong["The New Ottawa Council." "The Ottawa Citizen." Nov 15, 1994. pg. E.5] He helped lead the effort to oppose the NCCplan to widen the Champlain Bridge, ["NCC reconsiders widening of bridge after community group files lawsuit" Leonard Stern. "The Ottawa Citizen." Aug 16, 1996. pg. A.1.] and when he ran again in 1997 he was elected to city council to represent the Westboro area. In 2000 the recently-amalgamated City of Ottawa was created, and Little ran to represent Kitchissippi Ward, covering much of western central Ottawa. The main issue was whether a large new Loblawsstore should be built in the area, a project Little supported on behalf of the majority of residents ["Hug Loblaws approved for Westboro" CBC News, April 5th 2000 - http://www.cbc.ca/news/story/2000/04/05/loblaws000405.html] , but opposed by many in the community along with Little's main opponent, Regional Council member Linda Davis. ["Loblaw's store debated in Kitchissippi Ward" Laura Landon. "The Ottawa Citizen." Oct 27, 2000. pg. F.6] When approved, the addition was seen as a victory for the community. Crime and school closures were also important issues in the campaign. The race was the most bitter in the city with Little's supporters accused of stealing lawn signs while Davis was accused of leaking libelous material to "Frank" magazine. ["Ward 15: Kitchissippi" Laura Landon. "The Ottawa Citizen. " Nov 7, 2000. pg. E.12] Little was also criticized for not living in the ward; he had moved to just outside the district lines to the neighbouring Bay Ward after inheriting his grandmother's house. ["Knives come out in Kitchissippi" Daniel McHardie. "The Ottawa Citizen." Oct 22, 2000. pg. A.15] In a close race, Little defeated Davis by 900 votes.
Little's first term on Ottawa council proved to be a very difficult one. His greatest problem arose from allegations by Davis supporters that Little had misrepresented his election expenses. An audit initially found that he had surpassed his limits by $2600 ["Audit finds Little overspent: Report puts councillor $2,600 over campaign limit" Carolynne Wheeler. "The Ottawa Citizen." Sep 11, 2001. pg. D.3] , though important documents were not properly provided by Elections Ottawa . As a result of the audit, in December 2001, he was charged with violating the "Municipal Elections Act". ["Kitchissippi councillor charged under Elections Act" Zev Singer. "The Ottawa Citizen." Dec 13, 2001. pg. C.2] The charges were eventually dismissed due to the mishandled documents, clearing Little of any legal wrongdoing. In the end, the allegations by Little's opposition caused circumstances which created considerable criticism by city residents for spending tens of thousands of dollars to investigate and prosecute a possible overspending of less than $2600. ["Taking Little to court costs $56,000 so far: Taxpayers' costs still climbing to prosecute case of alleged overspending of $2,578" Ken Gray. "The Ottawa Citizen." Sep 27, 2002. pg. F.3] The city refused to reimburse Little's considerable legal costs. With his livelihood threatened as a result of the high legal fees, Little moved to sue the city to recoup his forced expenses. He also motioned to sue fellow councilor
Alex Cullenfor defamation. ["Little charges he's victim of a political vendetta: The city councillor, who has lurched from one crisis to another during two years in office, says he is the target of a plot at City Hall." Ken Gray "The Ottawa Citizen." Nov 23, 2002. pg. D.1.] He eventually settled, with the city paying a portion of his legal bills, a move supported by many councillors in an attempt to "end misery for a person ... who has never been proven guilty." ["Council offers to pay part of Little's legal bill" CBC News, June 10th 2004 - http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/story/2004/06/10/ot_little20040610.html] Little dropped his suit against Cullen as part of the deal with the city in order to put an end the long and expensive dispute.
He was also plagued by a series of minor scandals over his first term. His actions on council were criticized as he had the highest expenses of any councillor by a considerable margin, ["Little leads council spending list: Unapologetic councillor says expenses necessary" Carolynne Wheeler. "The Ottawa Citizen." Sep 26, 2001. pg. C.1.] including money that went to an expensive trip to California. ["Little defends San Jose spree: Plans to repay personal expenses" Carolynne Wheeler. "The Ottawa Citizen." Sep 27, 2001. pg. B.1.] It was also found that he had overspent his previous budget by $10,000, money he was forced to pay back to the city. ["Little still repaying $10,000: Councillor overspent previous office budget" Carolynne Wheeler. "The Ottawa Citizen." Sep 29, 2001. pg. C.1.] The owner of an Ottawa bar also reported that Little had refused to comply with the non-smoking by-law Little himself had voted for. ["Little's smoking habit 'a joke': bartender: Staff at two bars say Ottawa councillor has defied ban on smoking before" Carolynne Wheeler. "The Ottawa Citizen." Sep 8, 2001. pg. A.1.] From April to July 2002, he was absent from council due to an intestinal infection caught while in
Mexico. ["'Sick' Little spent $1,213: Councillor submitted tabs while on medical leave" Ken Gray. "The Ottawa Citizen." Aug 9, 2002. pg. F.1.] Due to the accumulated problems, the Ottawa Citizencalled for him to resign. ["Time for Little to leave" "The Ottawa Citizen."Oct 2, 2001. pg. B.4] Disregarding the repeatedly negative nature of the publication and leaving the decision to his voters, Little chose to stay on.
Little remained in office, and surprised some by deciding to run for reelection in the 2003 election. ["Disgraced city councillor becomes a symbol for the little guy" Ron Corbett. "The Ottawa Citizen." Feb 2, 2003. pg. D.1.] Considered vulnerable by many, the race attracted seven challengers, most prominently Linda Davis. According to the Ottawa Citizen "most people who follow municipal politics gave Mr. Little almost no chance of holding his job in the 2003 election;" ["Little bows out of race for Kitchissippi seat" Jake Rupert. The Ottawa Citizen. Sep 14, 2006. pg. C.1] . However, benefiting from the divided opposition, Little was reelected, receiving a 27% plurality. ["Little re-elected with just 27% of vote;" Bruce Ward, Erin Conway-Smith and Ken Gray. "The Ottawa Citizen." Nov 11, 2003. pg. B.3] Though victoriously chosen by the people, The Ottawa Citizen once again attacked Little's career by publishing a story claiming that the results were outrageous and democracy should be put on hold in the ward because people in the region did not know how to 'vote smart'. A view not shared by Little's opposition Kris Klein, who felt the reporting could be described as "extreme"."A little help from his enemies" ST. "Ottawa Xpress" Nov.13th, 2003. http://www.hour.ca/news/news.aspx?iIDArticle=630]
His second term was far less tumultuous, bringing more attention to his successes and strengths. Little had an almost perfect attendance record at city council meetings, and avoided major controversy, while the Ottawa Citizen continued it's negative trend claiming that Mr. Little had done little. ["Despite near-perfect attendance, Little under fire for inaction" Zev Singer. "The Ottawa Citizen." Jan 12, 2006. pg. C.1.] In Contrast, during his time on City Council, Little served on a wide variety of city committees, boards and agencies. He chaired the City's License Committee and Animal Control Tribunal (quasi-judicial bodies) and founded the Hintonburg Economic Development Committee. Little was extremely successful in bringing together residents, local police and various municipal agencies to tackle issues of crime, prostitution and property standards non-compliance by creating and chairing the Hintonburg Problem Properties Task Force and Hintonburg Safety Partnership - a model that is now used in other areas of the city, and continues to improve quality of life in Hintonburg several years after the fact. Little was also successful in mobilizing youth and has had what is described in retrospect as "long term positive influence on troubled teens in the area" by youth who were involved as campaign aids.
Little initially decided to contest the 2006 election, but dropped out of the race two months prior to the election. ["Little bows out of race for Kitchissippi seat" Jake Rupert. "The Ottawa Citizen." Sep 14, 2006. pg. C.1]
Christine Leadmanwon the election to replace him. As of February 2007, Little had formed two new local companies - Capital City Planning Consultants and Capital Catering. He continues to remain active in local affairs and resides in the west end of Ottawa.
* [http://ottawa.ca/city_hall/mayor_council/councillors/s_little_en.html Official site]
* [http://www.ottawa.ca/calendar/ottawa/citycouncil/occ/2005/11-09/minutes45.htm Pesticide Vote]
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