Help us help Ottawa: write to your rep!

Back in 2011, when FTOÉ first got started, one of the first things we did was meet with City Councillors with Fair Trade roses and chocolate to make sure that they knew there was a push in Ottawa for Fair Trade. Fast forward four years, and we’re just coming off the 2014 election, with fresh faces in City Hall. FTOÉ needs support from the Councillors to make Fair Trade Town status happen, and so we knew it was important to meet with the Councillors–especially the new ones–to establish or renew our relationship with them.

Specifically, what FTOÉ needs from Councillors is the following:

  1. City Council needs to pass a motion in favour of Ottawa becoming a Fair Trade Town. This motion will most likely go through one of two committees: CPS or FEDCo. Please click the committees for information on which Councillors sit on them, to see if yours is there!
  2. FEDCo, which manages the financial side of Council, has to put through a modified Purchasing Policy that requires all coffee, tea and sugar purchased by the City of Ottawa to be Fair Trade. This will require the cooperation of the Councillors who sit on the committee, so please check to see if your rep is on FEDCo. If they are, your voice is extra important in the work we’re doing right now!
  3. City Hall has to appoint someone to sit on the official Steering Committee for FTOÉ, which will meet twice per year and renew our Fair Trade Town status. This commitment can be fulfilled by a Councillor, or a City Staff, or any representative, and is quite low-effort. The heavy lifting in FTOÉ will always be done by the volunteer base. And a City Hall rep is in the future–this is only necessary once we get very close to Fair Trade Town status, so our priority now is to focus on requirements 1 and 2.

FTOÉ has an extensive history with some Councillors and a very vague relationship with others, which is where the FTOÉ support network comes in. Sometimes Councillors tell us, “I only care if my constituents care, and they don’t care.” We don’t think that’s true. We think that people in all parts of the National Capital Region are passionate about social justice, environmental sustainability and supporting small-scale producers instead of multinationals.

The ask

Today, we have something you can do to help us with the Fair Trade Town campaign: write to your representative in City Hall. Let them know that you care about these issues, and that the work that FTOÉ does is important to you. Let them know that you want them to formalize an agreement for them only to buy Fair Trade coffee, tea and sugar through their purchasing policy, and ask them to require that any independents that operate on their premises do the same. Ask them to vote “yes” when we bring a motion before Council, asking Council to support Ottawa becoming a Fair Trade Town. And if you’re not in an area where Fair Trade business is already booming, ask them to keep in mind that people like you want to be able to purchase Fair Trade (and local, organic, and other related food movements) and that’s more difficult when their representative isn’t pushing for it.

A bit of history

If you’d like to have a peek at FTOÉ’s history with the City Councillors, below you’ll find information on each round of meetings, as well as some photographs with the Councillors!


Now ancient history, volunteers from FTOÉ (this is so long ago that we weren’t even called FTOÉ yet!) met with Councillors for Valentine’s Day. Here, some volunteers from the EWB Ottawa City Chapter are posing with the Councillors. They even got some media coverage!


At this point, FTOÉ was finally starting to get off the ground (name and all!), and it was time for Mike (our Municipal Outreach lead) to meet with Councillors to know where they stood on Fair Trade Town status, and to make sure they have a steady supply of chocolate and love from FTOÉ!


This year, due to some major goings-on in FTOÉ and a new strategy, we focused on quality rather than quantity. We corresponded a few times with key Councillors that we knew were going to help us with a bit more of the heavy lifting, and set to really working on finding important leverage points within City Council.


2014 saw FTOÉ needing to restructure how we interact with Councillors. For the first part of the year, it was not possible to catch up with Councillors, as they were busily campaigning. In the last part of the year, there were some changes in Council, leading to a re-evaluation of where we stood. We spent some time planning our strategy for 2015, moving forward.


As I write this, 2015 Councillor meetings are still ongoing! We have met with some of the brand new Councillors, as you will see below (and more updates will be made to this page as we meet new people). We have also reconnected with some old friends in Council, this time with a very clear game plan: to get an understanding of how the process works (especially within FEDCo) and how we can best leverage positive changes to the purchasing policy.

So far, 2015 meetings have been held with:

  • Councillor Rick Chiarelli
  • Councillor George Darouze
  • Councillor Diane Deans
  • Councillor Eli El-Chantiry
  • Councillor Mathieu Fleury
  • Councillor Allan Hubley
  • Councillor Jeff Leiper
  • Councilor Catherine McKenney
  • Councillor Bob Monette
  • Councillor Tobi Nussbaum
  • Councillor Michael Qaqish
  • Deputy Mayor Mark Taylor’s assistant

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