Mayor Jim Turns His Back on Urban Residents

Okay Jim, enough.

It’s time to remember that you – as you often have pointed out yourself – received a mandate from the entire City of Ottawa.

And when you diss your urban city councillors, also duly elected, you’re also dissing those urban constituents. You’re absolutely ignoring them and their concerns. 

You’re a smart guy. You must get that. But you don’t seem to care.

So yes, enough. You’ve proved you’re powerful enough to squish your opposition like bugs. It’s not a good look for you. And it’s not good for the city, for the residents – and frankly – it makes you look like an insecure doofus. Quit the petty power play politics. You’re better than that. At least, you used to be. Stop pitting parts of the city against each other, stop with the Old Boys Club mentality and treat this city like you care about all of it.

If you don’t pay attention to the day-to-day minutia of all that is city hall, a quick recap:

With a leave of absence by Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais, taken to concentrate on wining the provincial riding for Orleans under the Liberal banner, a replacement for the chair of the transportation committee had to be found. And who is the vice-chair of the committee? None other than Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper, who often cycles to work, pays acute attention to transit – he knows his stuff. But apparently, being from the urban core meant he didn’t have a chance to become chair. He wasn’t Watson’s pick, and Watson’s band of merry councillors are always there to support the mayor. Watson’s pick was Beacon Hill-Cyrville Coun. Tim Tierney.

And there you have it. In a near unanimous vote (only Bay Coun. Theresa Kavanagh voted again Tierney) the east-end councillor won the day. In truth, Tierney can do the job. But he got it over Leiper because he’s part of the Watson team, and awarding club members is how Watson keeps them in line. Leiper is outside looking in from the downtown core.

“I think we’re missing an opportunity to really signal to our transit, cycling and pedestrian constituencies that we mean what we say when we want to make a big shift in how people get around. And, there was an opportunity to put a downtown voice on (committee). Better policy-making happens when there’s a variety of voices at the table, even dissenting voices. The risk of being surrounded solely by supporters is of being blinkered. Debate can only lead to better outcomes,” Leiper responded to On the City, From the Burbs.

Capital Coun. Shawn Menard is also one of those that’s been on the losing end of Watson’s games. Small wonder he sometimes lashes out on Twitter against the mayor. Unfortunately, that only seems to trigger the mayor further.

“It has been a Hallmark of the Watson regime to maintain absolute control over the past decade, but what is becoming very apparent is that he is losing his grip on council. We saw it with the ridiculous motion to remove the word “emergency” from the homelessness and affordable housing motion. We saw it on a motion to look into participatory budgeting. We are seeing it regularly with the LRT problems being highlighted daily. And his response to these things is to try and get more control over committees, even if it means excluding entire regions of the city. In my estimation, this mayor isn’t going to be around council too much longer,” Menard responded to this blog.

There’s still an infinitely small glimmer of hope that Watson could do the right thing. The decision to appoint Tierney still has to be approved by council and also provides an opportunity for further nominations from the floor. (And I feel I have to reiterate, Tierney has proven his ability chair big files.) This city needs both urban, suburban and urban reps taking leadership roles at the city. We’re not getting that.

“Nominating a colleague to chair a committee should not be a power play or a popularity contest. Residents deserve better. At the very least we need to have that discussion in a public forum about who is best to lead that conversation. The public is demanding openness and transparency not backroom decisions,” Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney wrote to On the City, From the Burbs.

Sadly, it’s doubtful much will change unless Watson himself does.

1 Comment

  1. What i do find amazing is the right that wants JIm to step down these are the same people that complain about taxes etc yet look at the far left what they want the 3% increase would be 6% atleast.

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