Democracy Turning Into a Dictatorship and Taxpayers Are Footing the Bill

And it’s another Christmas miracle.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson dipped into the bag of taxpayer-funded goodies on Friday and has found millions of unspent dollars to help the mess that is the city’s light rail system.

Just add the costs onto the – is it too early to call it – a $2.1 billion boondoggle?

And now the promise of fewer buses on our roads isn’t to be, at least not in the immediate future. Not only aren’t we getting what we were promised, and what we’ve paid for, but we’re now having to pay more for who knows what.

What an absolute mess. 

And what does council think of Watson’s announcement of another $3.5 million being pumped into putting back buses that have just been recently removed?  Well, they weren’t asked or consulted. Just another blow to the concept of democracy at Ottawa City Hall.

And let’s not forget councillors like Gloucester-South Nepean Coun. Carol Anne Meehan were anxious to have a meeting to discuss the never-ending LRT problems. So too were Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney and River Coun. Riley Brockington, but that idea was quickly dismissed by Watson, though he sent Hubley, his good soldier to deliver the news.

Well, it seems even more obvious now that a meeting should have been held to discuss the problems of LRT and together talk about a way forward. This is a city-wide issue and a city-wide problem. Councillors were duly elected by their constituents across the city. And those same councillors should have had a say on behalf of their constituents.

It’s been a long time since Watson cared much about consultation. And now, it’s just not part of his repertoire. On Friday, another mess of an LRT day, Watson took matters into his own hands. Our mayor isn’t even pretending to head up a democratic process. Just because he can do something doesn’t mean he should.

This has become something far more akin to a dictatorship where Watson feels empowered to ignore his council. And that’s just what he does, while doling out little goodies to his band of yes men and women. He likes to say he’s the one who represents the entire city, essentially that he knows best.

I like to say he doesn’t.

Collectively, he and his council know best.

Watson implied he and transit chair Allan Hubley made the decision together to add $3.5 million worth of buses.

That’s hard to believe. While it’s impossible to blame the horrendous problems of the present LRT system directly on Watson, he is certainly to blame for putting Hubley in as transit chair – a role that is well over the Kanata councillor’s abilities. Everyone knew it at the time and that’s even more abundantly clear now.

 Pretty sure any discussion between Watson and Hubley – if there really was one – went something like this. Watson: “This is what we’re doing. And this is just a courtesy call.” 

And while you can’t lay all the blame on Watson for this mess, he does own much of it – if only because he insists on ignoring his council. Surely I wasn’t the only one who worried whether the testing done was solid enough to take over the system. And for sure, I know I’m not the only one who is concerned about whether this system will ever actually work. Adding the buses back on is a serious – albeit necessary – step backward.

So here’s where we’re at. As taxpayers, we’re paying for a $2.1 billion transit system that doesn’t work. And we’re now paying millions more to put back the buses we took off the streets to help that pricey but flawed system. And there’s more spending to come. Is there any real chance that a transit user will use LRT when they can get on a reliable bus? Will transit riders give LRT another chance? 

Adding insult to injury, we’re now working on phase two of light rail. 

Equally egregious – the councillors who you elected to take your interests directly to city hall – are being ignored. 

And so are you.