With seven new city councillors around the table in December, it’s going be a much different council on Lisgar Avenue than we’ve come to expect.
And fingers crossed, here’s hoping it will be a more independent council than we’ve witnessed over the past couple of terms.
There’s certainly good reason to believe that will be the case.
For starters, Mayor Jim Watson had made it clear he favoured certain candidates over others, but his efforts didn’t sway the voters.
In his own neighbourhood of Bay ward, he publicly endorsed Liberal Don Dransfield. Theresa Kavanagh walked away with the ward. Kavanagh has run for the New Democrats and is married to former Bay councillor Alex Cullen, a nemesis of Watson’s for years.
Watson is also buddies with David Gourlay, who lost to Jenna Sudds in Kanata. And in College ward, former Watson staffer Ryan Kennery moved into the ward to take on another councillor on Watson’s hit list – Rick Chiarelli. It wasn’t to be for Kennery, who I absolutely believe could make a strong city councillor one day – just not on Watson’s heavy-handed suggestion.
And in Innes ward, Watson criticized Laura Dudas for accepting an endorsement from councillor Riley Brockington. (Frankly, it is pretty hard to understand why anyone would want Brockington’s endorsement – but that’s another story!) The fact is plenty of councillors endorse candidates, Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder supported Carol Anne Meehan against incumbent Michael Qaqish (happy to say she was victorious!) and Beacon Hill-Cyrville Coun. Tim Tierney supported Donna Leith-Gudbrason in a race Dudas won. Didn’t hear Watson criticizing them – and it’s safe to say he wan’t pulling for the right-wing Meehan. I was!
Watson also got into a nasty twitter war against Capital ward challenger Shawn Menard. Menard won the race, beating out incumbent David Chernushenko.
So if there was ever any doubt, Watson appears to have absolutely no influence in the ward races, despite his efforts otherwise.
He even went so far as to tweet out against councillors who disagree with him – urging voters to stay clear of those councillors
“When I see candidates who are always angry and wanting to “fight” on every issue I say look for a more positive and collaborative person – one who will work well with neighbours and colleagues. That’s how our level of government works best and obtains positive results!” he wrote.
Added to all, the councillors considered to be on the political left have increased. That’s not a bad thing, except for Watson. A balanced council is a better council – and we can hope for more meaningful debate. Joining Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney, Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper, Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Tobi Nussbaum and (often) Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury are newly-elected Capital Coun. Shawn Menard and councillor-elect Theresa Kavanagh. While defeated councillor David Chernushenko’s politics were said to be left leaning, he couldn’t be relied upon. Frequently joining that group are Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans – and sometimes College Coun. Rick Chiarelli, depending on the issue.
Watson has more than once criticized councillors for asking too many questions at council, telling them to ask questions at committee. Here’s a newsflash Mayor Watson – you don’t get to dictate that. In fact, you shouldn’t be dictating anything.
The residents of Ottawa have spoken. And all signs point to a stronger city council – one which isn’t going to simply let Watson tell them what’s good for them. Instead, they’ll do what’s right for us.