For Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, it was a good day as he unveiled his proposed picks for committee chairs and members. His choices have to be confirmed at Wednesday’s council meeting.
The all-important finance and economic development committee – essentially the council cabinet – is chock full of city councillors willing to do his bidding. And if you take a closer look at the makeup of that committee, no sign of those pesky, left-leaving downtown councillors who try to get in Watson’s way. In case you missed the dripping sarcasm – that means the downtown wards aren’t represented on the most important committee.
A couple of shockers. The biggest surprise of all is the placement of Kanata North Coun. Jenna Sudds as the new chair of community and protective services and a seat on the city’s finance and economic committee.
Is there a chance Watson thinks Sudds is so brilliant she can take on this huge committee? Well, let’s not forget that Watson campaigned against her in this most recent election, pushing for his buddy David Gourlay to take the ward. Surely, with all these goodies in one basket, Watson will be able to rely on Sudds’ loyalty for the next four years. If she fails, Watson will swoop in and save her, if she thrives, he’ll have her vote. This is in no way a diss at Sudds, but the portfolio is a huge one. With all due respect to her, good luck.
Sudds replaces Deans as chair, who gets the second most shocking appointment.
Deans is the new police services board chair – and the first woman in Ottawa to hold that role.
This is fabulous news. As the councillor for Gloucester-Southgate, her ward has seen more than its fair share of violence. She knows all too well about the problems of increasing guns and gangs in our neighbourhoods. She’s a brilliant choice – but given her uneasy relationship with the mayor – one that’s pretty much impossible to understand.
Deans takes over from outgoing chair West Carleton-March Coun. Eli El-Chantiry, whose exit was expected given news that his good friend and former police chief Vern White would like his old job back.
Another big surprise. While facing serious legal issues, Beacon Hill-Cyrville Coun. Tim Tierney has actually received a promotion. Not only does he keep his chair of the Ottawa Public Library, he now has a seat on the all-important finance committee. Surely Watson has bought Tierney’s loyalty for the next four years. Nice work if you can get it.
Watson has played this game for a long time, gaining councillors’ loyalty by rewarding them and freezing out his dissidents. It’s how he plays the game.
And let’s remember, Watson is the one who called for a council of cooperation. That apparently doesn’t start at the top.