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Alex Munter

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Template:Infobox Politician

Alexander Mathias Munter (born April 29, 1968) is a former politician and journalist in Ottawa, Canada's capital city. He is currently the executive director of Ottawa's Youth Services Bureau.

Munter's family emigrated from Germany to Montreal in 1966, two years prior to his birth. His family moved to the Ottawa region in 1977, and settled in the Katimavik-Hazeldean area west of the city. At age 14, Munter began publishing the Kanata Kourier from his basement as a monthly local paper for the suburban community of Kanata, Ontario. In four years, the paper had a staff of seven and a circulation of 10,000 in the town of 27,000. In recognition of his success in business, he received an award as "Young Entrepreneur of the Year" from then-Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in 1988.

Involvement in local politics Edit

Munter became much involved in local politics in his role as editor. He was frequently at odds with Kanata Mayor Des Adam, whom he once controversially compared to Joseph Stalin. [1]

In August 1989, he sold his paper to Runge Newspapers Inc. for over $300,000 [2] due to competition from the rival paper Kanata Standard, but stayed on as publisher. [3] In November 1989, Munter left the Kourier to focus on his ongoing studies in Political Science at the University of Ottawa.[4]

He became a political reporter for the Ottawa Citizen, but left to run as a candidate of the Ontario New Democratic Party in the 1990 provincial election, contesting the riding of Carleton. Munter placed third in this conservative riding, but received more votes than any previous NDP candidate in the area.

Munter briefly returned to the Citizen, then worked for the Spicer Commission on Canada's Future before re-entering politics to run for Kanata City Council against incumbent Bev Read. After winning the race, Munter quickly became a prominent member of the council. One of his most notable achievements was pushing through an initiative to install condom dispensers in some municipal buildings. He also chaired the Kanata Police Services Board. In 1993, he came out of the closet as the Ottawa area's first openly gay politician.[5] [6]

The following year, he ran for a seat on the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton representing all of Kanata. He easily won the seat against two other Kanata politicians. On Regional Council, he became one of the most outspoken left-wing members of council.[citation needed]

During his time in office, Kanata was in the midst of an economic boom centred on the high-tech industry. Munter's main concern was managing the area's rapid growth. He supported creating the amalgamated city of Ottawa, and was acclaimed to the new Ottawa City Council when it was created. He also chaired the new city of Ottawa's health committee and, along with Medical Officer of Health Robert Cushman, led the battle to bring Ottawa's no-smoking by-law.[citation needed]

File:Alexmunter23dec2005.jpg

Munter was courted to run provincially or to challenge for the mayoralty against Bob Chiarelli in 2003, but instead took a hiatus from electoral politics. He became a visiting professor of Urban Studies and Communications at the University of Ottawa and resumed writing for the Citizen. The federal New Democratic Party (NDP) approached him to run in Ottawa Centre in the 2006 federal election to succeed Ed Broadbent but Munter declined. Munter was the co-ordinator for Canadians for Equal Marriage, a group that campaigned successfully in favour of legislation to enshrine same-sex marriage in Canada.

While still sometimes identified in the media as an NDP supporter, Munter is currently not a member of any political party. At the national level, he worked with Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin's team in the 2006 election as reported in the Ottawa Citizen "[Munter] acted as a middleman to supply The Canadian Press with a story damaging to Stephen Harper. It made the media aware of statements Harper made in an old speech to an American conservative group. The Martin campaign was behind the story and CP was unhappy that Munter didn't acknowledge the connection." [1] Locally, the Ottawa Sun reported Munter campaigned "for candidates from all the major parties, including Tory [candidate] Royal Galipeau in Ottawa—Orléans, Liberal Isabel Metcalfe in Carleton—Mississippi Mills and NDPer Paul Dewar in Ottawa Centre." [2]

On February 13, 2006, Alex Munter announced[3] his candidacy[4] for mayor of Ottawa in the November 2006 municipal election. A 2005 poll by the Ottawa Sun had Munter as a front-runner, in a statistical tie with the incumbent Bob Chiarelli. Another public poll in April 2006 had Munter as the front runner with a significant lead over Chiarelli. Most polls made public in the early stages of the campaign showed Munter in first place, often by a small margin. A poll conducted between October 13 and 18 by UniMarketing and sponsored by Radio-Canada and Le Droit, had Munter ahead by 12 percentage points at 44% of decided voters. Larry O'Brien was in second place with 32% and Chiarelli third (24%). [5]

On election night, Munter finished second with 36.25%, behind O'Brien (47%) but ahead of Chiarelli (15.6%). [6]

2006 Mayoral campaign platformEdit

File:2006 Munter vote.png

Munter set out several key priorities in his mayor campaign: public safety, fiscal responsibility, local economy and public transit. He promised to limit tax hikes to the inflation rate. While he was a city councillor, he claimed he helped to bring in ten consecutive balanced budgets without any tax increases. His opponents claimed that the budget was balanced despite his votes to increase spending.

He said he planned to improve public transit in the city of Ottawa, to review the O-Train project and to fix possible irregularities regarding the contract with Siemens. Munter said that the project could have been significantly better than the current proposal, and that the costs could have been reduced. He did his own proposal of the north-south line by proposing the removal of the Barrhaven and downtown sections. Funding released would have redirected for the development of a future east-west line.[7]

He criticized outgoing mayor Bob Chiarelli on several occasions for proceeding too quickly on the project, without proper information and consultation. He also criticized the Mayor for allegedly providing incorrect information about the project, including saying that there will be additional costs because of an announcement made by John Baird, President of the Treasury Board, that the federal government's $200 million contribution would be delayed until after the November election.[8]. After Larry O'Brien's election as the new mayor, the expansion project was completely cancelled by City Council on December 14, 2006.

He promised to improve safety on the city streets with an increase of the number of police officers. He supported, along with mayors from other cities, increased gun control and stricter measures for drug dealing. He also proposed to give an easier access to leisure activities for kids with lower recreational fees. In regards to the environment, he wanted the city of Ottawa to be environmentally-friendly. In addition of improvements for the public transit system, he also promised to close two landfill sites situated on Carp and Navan Roads in which there were expansion requests by private firms despite opposition by citizens.

Post-electionEdit

In 2007, Munter was appointed executive director of Ottawa's Youth Services Bureau.[7]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Sibley, Robert. "Paper apologizes for 'dictator' comparison", The Ottawa Citizen, 1989-08-02, p. B1. 
  2. Brennan, Pat. "Newspaper publisher retures to go to school (sic)", Toronto Star, 1989-10-30, p. B1. 
  3. Urlocker, Mike. "Renfrew printer takes over Kanata Kourier", The Ottawa Citizen, 1989-08-16, p. D2. 
  4. Munter, Alex. "Farewell press tycoon, hello job hunter", The Globe and Mail, 1989-11-29, p. A7. 
  5. Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives profile
  6. Canada.com article referring to Munter as 'well-known gay rights activist'
  7. Chiarelli attacks Munter's light-rail alternative
  8. Chiarelli misled council on rail deal, Munter says

External linksEdit

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