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Trudeau calls byelections for 3 seats, including B.C. riding sought by NDP’s Singh

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February could give Canadians a sneak peek at what’s to come during the upcoming federal election as voters in three ridings head to the polls for byelections.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that byelections for the ridings of York–Simcoe in Ontario, Outremont in Quebec and Burnaby South in B.C. will be held Feb. 25. The calls come following Opposition claims that the Liberals were deliberately delaying the byelections and leaving the ridings vacant.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is hoping voters in B.C. will give him a seat in the House of Commons.

The Burnaby South byelection — vacated by former New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart, now Vancouver’s mayor —  will be a crucial test of Singh’s leadership.

Under his tenure, several NDP MPs have said they won’t run in the fall federal election or have already stepped aside. The party’s fundraising performance is poor and it sits at 16.7 per cent support in CBC’s Poll Tracker, an aggregation of all publicly available polling data.

Singh will be up against Liberal candidate and small business owner Karen Wang, the Conservatives’ Jay Shin, a corporate lawyer, and former talk show host Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson of the new People’s Party of Canada.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has said her party will stand back and respect the “leader’s courtesy” by not running a candidate against Singh.

Meanwhile, in Quebec and Ontario

New Democrats also face a tough battle in Outremont, vacated by their former leader Tom Mulcair when he left politics this summer. The Montreal-area riding has had symbolic meaning for the party ever since Mulcair took the former Liberal fortress in a breakout win back in 2007.

The upcoming byelection could serve as an opportunity to measure how Quebec voters view Singh. So far, the party’s results in recent byelections have been underwhelming. The NDP finished a distant third in the June byelection in Chicoutimi-Le Fjord and fourth in the 2017 Lac-Saint-Jean contest.

Julia Sanchez, a political novice with a background in the humanitarian sector, will try to keep the riding orange while lawyer Rachel Bendayan will carry the banner for the Liberals. Law student Jasmine Louras is running for the Conservative Party and the Greens have tapped deputy leader Daniel Green to run for them.

There’s no word yet on who is running for Maxime Bernier’s party.

NDP candidate Thomas Mulcair celebrates with party leader Jack Layton. right, after winning the byelection in Outremont riding in Montreal Monday, Sept. 17, 2007. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

The main political parties will also duke it out in the Ontario riding of York-Simcoe, now that Conservative MP and former cabinet minister Peter Van Loan has retired from politics.

Business owner Scot Davidson is hoping to keep the north-of-Toronto riding blue. The Liberals’ nomination meeting is being held Saturday.

Another vacancy to fill

Today’s announcement doesn’t address all the vacancies in the House of Commons.

Until recently, Sheila Malcolmson held the Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding in B.C. for the NDP, but has left to run in a provincial byelection.

A Liberal official told CBC News the government won’t call the federal byelection there until after the provincial race to replace Nanaimo MLA-turned-Mayor Leonard Krog is over on Jan. 30.

The Conservatives have already named John Hirst, a Sun Life Financial manager, as their candidate.

Meanwhile, Liberal Nicola Di Iorio, who has been largely unseen on Parliament Hill since the House resumed sitting this fall, has said he’ll step down as the MP in Saint-Leonard–Saint-Michel Jan. 22.

That timeline allows Trudeau to avoid calling a byelection and to leave Di Iorio’s seat vacant for the maximum time allowed — nine months before the Oct. 21 general election.

Timing questioned 

The government has come under fire from the other parties for not quickly calling the byelections.

At a rally on the weekend, Singh accused Trudeau of delaying the byelection, saying the prime minister has left constituents in B.C. without a voice in Ottawa for too long.

“This is a decision that impacts the bedrock of our democracy,” Singh told supporters Sunday.

Last week, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer accused Trudeau of playing “political games” with his timing.

“Voters in these vacant seats deserve the chance to have their voices heard,” said Scheer in a statement. “Justin Trudeau needs to do the right thing, and immediately call byelections in all vacant seats.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that byelections for the ridings of York–Simcoe in Ontario, Outremont in Quebec and Burnaby South in B.C. will be held Feb. 25. (CBC)

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Future of Ottawa: Chefs with Kathryn Ferries

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This week in the Future of Ottawa series, we’re taking a deep dive into the bar and restaurant industry—what it’s like now and where it’s headed. Read on for a guest post from Kat Ferries on the future of chefs, or read posts from Quinn Taylor on bars or Justin Champagne on fine dining.

Kat Ferries is Sous-Chef at Stofa Restaurant and a 2020 San Pellegrino North American Young Chef Social Responsibility Award Winner.

Apt613: What is the current landscape for chefs in Ottawa?

Kat Ferries: There is such great talent in Ottawa with so many chefs either being from here originally or have returned after traveling and have since opened some incredible restaurants. Many chefs have focused menus that really highlight their strengths, their heritage, and their passion for food. Dominique Dufour of Gray Jay, Marc Doiron of Town/Citizen, Steve Wall of Supply & Demand, Daniela Manrique Lucca of The Soca Kitchen, and so many more are all cooking up beautiful and delicious food in this city.

If you care to make a prediction… Where is the food industry in Ottawa going for chefs in 2021?

The industry right now is, unfortunately, in a really tough spot. The pandemic has been so devastating on mental, physical and emotional levels for so many and I know that many of my friends in this industry are burning out. There are many discussions happening on work/life balance and what is healthy for everyone. Some may never return to the long, hard hours we are expected to put in day after day and instead opt for a more flexible schedule or hire more staff to lighten the load on everyone, with some even leaving the industry indefinitely. Some may throw themselves back into this industry 10x as hard and create some of the best restaurants and concepts we’ve yet to see. I think all that will happen after the pandemic though.

For this year, it’s mostly about survival and finding happiness in creating what we can in the spaces we have while following all the laws and guidelines from public health officials. I think we will see more chefs creating experiences for guests that we otherwise wouldn’t have: think pop-ups, virtual dinner clubs, cocktail seminars, collabs, etc.

Where in your wildest dreams could the Ottawa culinary community grow in your lifetime?

I would love to see the Ottawa community support more small, local restaurants so our streets are bustling late into the nights like they are in Montreal, New York, or Europe. Having a local restaurant to frequent should be so much more commonplace, where you can enjoy a night out more often than just Friday or Saturday night. I would also love to see many more of our local chefs highlighted for the amazing food they create!

What is the best innovation to take place in your industry since the pandemic started affecting Ottawa?

Turning all our restaurants into mini-markets for customers to enjoy the food and wine of their favourite places at home. We have bottle shops for all your wine, beer and cocktail needs as well as menus that reflect what each restaurant does best. Some have even pivoted to a point where they are 100% a store and have paused any type of “service-style” dining.

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Future of Ottawa: Fine Dining with Justin Champagne

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This week in the Future of Ottawa series, we’re taking a deep dive into the bar and restaurant industry—what it’s like now and where it’s headed. Read on for a guest post from Justin Champagne on the future of fine dining, or read posts from Kathryn Ferries on chefs or Quinn Taylor on bars.

Justin Champagne went to culinary school at Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver. He got his start in fine dining restaurants at C Restaurant under Chef Robert Clark, then at Hawksworth Restaurant under Chef Eligh. He staged at three-Michelin-starred Atelier Crenn under Chef Dominque Crenn before moving to Ottawa and spending five years at Atelier, working his way up to Sous-Chef. He’s now the Head Chef of Bar Lupulus.

Apt613: What is the current landscape of fine dining restaurants in Ottawa?

Justin Champagne: Ottawa punches well above its weight class when it comes to quality restaurants in general. Fine dining is no exception to that—we have some amazing chefs here that are doing really great things. We also have some phenomenal sommeliers in town that are a huge factor when it comes to a guest’s experience in a fine dining restaurant. While there are some fantastic fine dining restaurants in town I do believe there’s room for more, and definitely room for more creativity and unique styles of cooking! I think we’ll see more small fine dining restaurants opening up, “micro-restaurants” where there’s maybe 20 seats. This will be over the next few weeks as the industry did take a big hit financially with COVID-19, but we still have a lot of great young chefs who have the fire inside of them to open their own location!

If you care to make a prediction… Where is fine dining going in Ottawa in 2021?

I’m not sure it’ll be 2021 or 2022 with the way the vaccine rollout and stay-at-home order is going, but I do expect there to be a wave of people looking to go out to fine dining restaurants. We’ve been cooped up cooking for ourselves or ordering takeout for over a year now. People are getting antsy and ready to go out and have fantastic meals again with exceptional wine and not have to worry about doing all the dishes afterwards!

Where in your wildest dreams could fine dining go in Ottawa in your lifetime?

That’s the fun part about “fine dining,” it can go anywhere and it can mean many things. Fine dining is about amazing service and well thought out, unique food that the kitchen spent hours fussing over, being meticulous in execution. Outside of that, you can have a lot of fun and be creative in different ways. My wildest dream I guess is that fine dinning restaurants begin to thrive and are able to charge without backlash the kind of prices that they need to charge in order to keep the lights on and pay their staff a proper living wage!!

What is the best innovation to take place in your industry since the pandemic started affecting Ottawa?

I’m not sure if I would really say there’s been a best “innovation” in my industry during the pandemic, but I will say that seeing the “adaptability” by all the restaurants in Ottawa has been incredibly inspiring. Ottawa’s food scene has always been a tight-knit community, “everyone helping everyone” kind of mentality. And this pandemic has really helped show that—restaurants helping restaurants through all of this!

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Ottawa’s Giant Tiger chain celebrating 60 years in business

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OTTAWA — An Ottawa staple, along with what might be the most famous cat in Canada, are celebrating a milestone Monday.

Giant Tiger is 60 years old.

“It all started with a very simple idea,” says Alison Scarlett, associate VP of communications at Giant Tiger. “Help Canadians save money every single day. Bring them products that they want and need. When you focus on those core principals, it really is quite simple to succeed.”

In 1961, Gordon Reid opened the first Giant Tiger in Ottawa’s ByWard Market. The company now has more than 260 locations across Canada and employs roughly 10,000 people.

“If you were at our store on opening day 60 years ago, the in store experience would be a little bit different from your local Giant Tiger store today. So that’s changed. A lot of our products and offerings have changed or expanded as Canadian consumers wants and needs have changed or expanded,” says Scarlett.

The homegrown department store continues to be a favourite for many shoppers looking to for the best deals on everyday products.

Helen Binda has been shopping here for decades.

“Many years. I can’t remember when. I’ve always loved Giant Tiger. It’s always been a good store for me.”

“I think its amazing and I think that we need more department stores,” says shopper Fay Ball. “And if it’s Canadian, all the better.”

The Canadian-owned family discount store carries everything from clothing to groceries, as well as everyday household needs. They’ve also expanded their online store and like most retailers provide curbside pickup during the pandemic.

“Doing what is right for our customers, associates, and communities. That has enabled us to be so successful for all of these years,” says Scarlett.

To celebrate, Giant Tiger is hosting a virtual birthday party at 7 p.m. Monday with live musical performances from some iconic Canadian artists.

You can visit their Facebook page to tune in. 

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