What happens when you hold a news conference and actually have no real news?
And why would you hold a news conference if you have nothing to say?
That’s a darn good question with no good answer.
On Friday, a gaggle of politicians and city staffers gathered outside the office of Mayor Jim Watson to provide an update
on the Ottawa Street Violence and Gang Strategy.
But while the speeches droned on – with Watson and Ottawa Police Services Board chair Eli El-Chantiry saying much the same thing – there was really nothing new said.
Now Watson suggested the news conference was being held because he couldn’t attend Monday’s police services board. That really makes no sense, since Watson doesn’t sit on the board.
Perhaps he didn’t want to be questioned about his absence in light of the number of shootings recently.
To be clear, there should be absolutely no doubt Watson and Chief Charles Bordeleau care about this city and are concerned about the recent shootings.
But holding a news conference isn’t a strategy for dealing with the problem.
The public and the media can see through that.
And in fact, instead of being reassuring, the newser was worrisome. Speaking of the holistic approach now being taken, Bordeleau pointed out the entire force is making this problem a priority. This isn’t new, but with many in the community calling for more patrol officers and Bordeleau pointing out they’re now being given extra duties instead of extra staff – sounds like resources are just going to be stretched even more.
Both Bordeleau and Watson continue to say our city is safe.
But Watson did a better job expressing what the community is feeling on the matter.
“We are a safe community. But when you live in a neighbourhood that has seen gun violence or has seen a murder, that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, us saying that,” he said.
Ottawa Police Association president Matt Skof spoke to On the City, From the Burbs on the weekend and his frustration with the situation was palpable.
“This is all just a regurgitation of everything they said last year. The truth is, we don’t have the staff to deal with these problems,” Skof said.
“There’s an incredible sense of irony here. We see the three of them (Watson, Bordeleau, El-Chantiry) talking like this when they themselves are responsible for the staffing problem,” he suggested, pointing to their commitment to a 2% tax increase.
Once again, the public is being called upon to get involved, if you know something, say something.
Surely that’s not what our civic leaders are pinning their hopes on to solve this worrisome and growing problem.