May 29, 2009 – The story of the Lennikovs

Posted in Uncategorized by nicktaylorvaisey on May 29, 2009

Featured interviews:

Today on the show, we took a break from our usual focus on local issues that affect local residents. Instead, we looked at the story of Mikhail Lennikov, his wife Irena, and his son Dmitri.

The Lennikovs live in Burnaby, British Columbia, but they were here in Ottawa earlier this week. Their mission was to convince the federal government not to deport Mikhail on June 3 and leave his wife and son in Canada.

The Lennikovs came to Ottawa with their member of parliament, the NDP’s Peter Julian, and stayed at his townhouse. The quartet spent quite a few hours together in just a couple of days. They held a high-profile press conference. The family watched as their MP asked immigration minister Jason Kenney about their plight during Question Period. And they even played some pickup basketball with Julian, who I believe might be the tallest member of the NDP caucus.

So what’s the family’s story? Why is Mikhail being deported? I wrote about this for MediaScout (see “Next on the deportation ticket” at the bottom) several months ago. Here is that post:

The National features a story about the Lennikovs, a Burnaby, British Columbia, family facing deportation to Russia because of the father’s past as a KGB agent. As a young man, Mikhail Lennikov was recruited by the Soviet spy agency and served as a Far East expert.

When he brought his family — wife Irena and son Dmitri — to Canada, Lennikov told federal authorities about his past and even debriefed the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service about his Cold War career. Such admissions would render him a traitor in Russia, the CBC report reminds viewers. The family was allowed to stay in Canada, but recently, the Canada Border Services Agency moved to reverse that decision, labeling Mikhail a potential sleeper agent for the Russians. The family, along with a growing number of friends, are protesting the decision. At issue is the plight of seventeen-year-old Dmitri, who would return to Russia, a country he barely knows, only to be drafted into the armed forces as the son of a traitor. It’s a life, his defenders say, which he should not be forced to live.

The report is touching enough based on these facts alone, but it then goes further. The CBC acquired CBSA documents that admit that the elder Lennikov poses no threat to Canadian security, which logically shifts the onus to prove otherwise to the CBSA. Any comment from the agency was conspicuously absent from the report, until reporter Terry Milewski’s final words: “The agency declined to comment.” Canada’s public broadcaster did its homework on this story, which — aside from a local Burnaby paper late last month — no other sources have picked up.

All these months later, more media have reported on the story (the CBC updated its December report here).

Now, some Canadians are with the government on this one. Others aren’t. Either way, the clock is ticking.


Hyperlocal news hits CBC

Posted in Uncategorized by nicktaylorvaisey on May 25, 2009

Early this morning, Kathleen Petty welcomed me and Wellington Oracle editor Evan Thornton into the CBC’s studio to talk about hyperlocal news in Ottawa. On Ottawa Morning‘s website, they refer to our trade as “micro-community news”. I kind of like how that sounds, too.

Here is a link to the clip. You’ll need Realplayer to hear the CBC’s feed.

May 22, 2009 – Making King Edward a safer and more livable street

Posted in Uncategorized by nicktaylorvaisey on May 22, 2009

Featured interviews:

Tune in to the interview with councillor Bédard to witness me confuse levels of government in spectacular fashion. I must say, reporting on some of these issues can be quite challenging, and unique compared to other municipalities. No matter how much you read, research, and generally prepare for discussions about Ottawa civic issues, there is always a way to screw up jurisdictional responsibilities.

Today, Bédard and I were talking about bridge options to reduce pressure on King Edward Avenue as an arterial route through Ottawa, and I mistakenly suggested that city council was examining options for a new bridge at either Kettle Island or the Duck islands east of the core. Of course, it’s the National Capital Commission — not council — that is currently studying options concerning these bridges.

Anyways, enjoy the show.

If you like discussions about tunnels, listen to Derek’s interview.

Thanks to everyone who participated this week.

WEB EXCLUSIVE: Looking back at #cco09

Posted in Uncategorized by nicktaylorvaisey on May 22, 2009

ChangeCamp Ottawa happened on May 16. We covered it on the May 8 show when we looked ahead to the event by interviewing Ryan Hill of local blog Apartment613 and event co-coordinator Morgen Peers.

Along with dozens of other participants, Ryan and I both attended the festivities. I was an observer and note-taker who was eager to listen to what web-engaged citizens had to say, and Ryan headed the team of exuberant Apartment613 bloggers who expended all kinds of energy capturing the ideas and general happenings of the day.

Yesterday, we sat down at City Hall — the location of the un-conference — and reflected a bit on what went on and how to move forward with all of the ideas and energy produced.

Tagged with: ,

Lebreton Flats, we hardly knew ye

Posted in Uncategorized by nicktaylorvaisey on May 21, 2009

There is an interesting mini-debate in the Ottawa blogosphere surrounding what one contributor called “urban planning nostalgia” at the Lebreton Flats.

David McClelland posted about the Flats at The Ottawa Project after touring the area and snapping some photos.

Eric Darwin at West Side Action took issue with some of David’s conclusions and wrote about it.

Local history debate nerds, assemble!

Nostalgia on the radio

Posted in Uncategorized by nicktaylorvaisey on May 20, 2009

Today, Emma Godmere was sitting through the Canadian Federation of Students’ semi-annual meeting. Because people can’t usually be in two places at once, Emma was unable to host the Ivory Antenna on CHUO. She asked me to do it in her place, and I happily obliged.

It was a bit nostalgic. I hosted the Ivory Antenna during its first year, and it was a blast. We talked to student leaders at not only the University of Ottawa but also at the federal level. We’re located in Ottawa and so are the CFS and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, so it was a perfect fit.

That geographic convenience worked its charm again today. CASA’s outgoing national director, Zach Churchill, came on the show and we talked about his time at the helm of a national student lobby group.

Oh, the memories. Zach had appeared on the Antenna at least twice before — maybe thrice.

  • Zach Churchill: outgoing national director of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations — [Download] [iTunes]

During the second half of today’s Antenna, I spoke with Alison Faulknor, the director of programs for the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Alison talked about Congress 2009, an annual week-long conference organized by the CFHSS that brings together 8,000 researchers in the humanities and social sciences.

Follow Congress on Twitter at #congress09.

Last year, the conference was at the University of British Columbia. This year: Ottawa. Listen to Alison talk about what goes down during Congress.

  • Alison Faulknor: director of programs, Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences — [Download] [iTunes]

WEB EXCLUSIVE: Action Sandy Hill AGM

Posted in Uncategorized by nicktaylorvaisey on May 18, 2009

That’s right, folks. Check back here this weekend for a few minutes with Joshua Zanin, the newest vice-president of Action Sandy Hill. We will discuss what happened at the ASH annual general meeting that happened tonight. You already know that Josh was elected, but he promises that there was all kinds of interesting debate.

Look for the interview on the weekend.

UPDATE: And here it is. Just click the link to here the interview.

  • Josh Zanin: vice-president of Action Sandy Hill — [Download] [iTunes]

May 15, 2009 – Creating a more walkable Ottawa

Posted in Uncategorized by nicktaylorvaisey on May 15, 2009

Featured interviews:

  • Bob Brocklebank and Nick Masciantonio: presidents of Glebe Community Association and Ottawa East Community Association, respectively – [Download] [iTunes]
  • Clive Doucet: city councillor for Capital Ward – [Download] [iTunes]

We also played a whole lot of City of a Hundred Spires (their blog is here), a band self-described as “delayed, reverb-soaked guitar-driven instrumental rock”. They are playing Cafe Dekcuf on May 22, so if you like what you hear on their MySpace page, check ’em out live.

Thanks to all the guests for helping to make the show a success.

May 8, 2009 – Research, citizenship, and the community

Posted in Uncategorized by nicktaylorvaisey on May 8, 2009

Featured interviews:

Apologies for the not-so-spectacular quality of the Hill interview. We conducted it in a fairly noisy Bridgehead. It sounded okay on my computer, but it was, well, not so great on air. Lesson: Never pre-record a radio interview for a show in any coffee shop with — okay, any coffee shop at all.

Thanks to Dr. Nemer, Morgen, and Ryan for taking the time to speak with Around the Block this week. You were instrumental in helping me through first-show jitters and growing pains.

Tagged with: , ,

Prepare for launch…

Posted in Uncategorized by nicktaylorvaisey on May 8, 2009

In just a few hours, Around the Block will hit Ottawa’s airwaves. I’m pumped, and I know co-host François-Olivier Dorais can’t wait to get going either (go check out his half of the show, by the way, at

Just past 11 a.m. this morning, you can expect to hear University of Ottawa vice-president research Mona Nemer talk about how she hopes to connect the school’s brightest researchers with the people who live just a few doors away — i.e. the residents of Sandy Hill and Centretown, among others. Hint: She wants to have people come to campus, and she also wants to use new media to get the word out.

At the bottom of the hour, you will hear a few people involved with ChangeCamp Ottawa, an un-conference scheduled for May 16 that hopes to answer the question: How do we re-imagine government and citizenship in the age of participation? It’s heavy stuff, but it’s all about engaging people at the most local level (hyperlocal, even) in the governance of the space around them. You’ll hear from Mark Kuznicki, the Toronto-based founder of ChangeCamp; Morgen Peers, an organizer of ChangeCamp Ottawa; and Ryan Saxby, a local blogger with Apartment613 who will cover ChangeCamp as it unfolds — think liveblog and Twitter, to the max.

Not sure what ChangeCamp really hopes to succeed? Confused about what the heck an un-conference entails? Tune in at 11 a.m. either by using a radio or, if you don’t want to move at all, by clicking on the “listen live” link in the top right corner of this site.