The Bad, the Ugly, the Really, Really Ugly – And the Just Plain Stupid

Maybe we can blame some of the ugliness witnessed at Ottawa City Hall last week on COVID grumpiness.

Hard to say.

But whatever the reason, none of it is okay and frankly, we’ve seen this kind of behaviour from Mayor Jim Watson and his band of loyal followers in the past. 

A quick status update before we get into the nitty gritty: Watson is still acting like a dictator, light rail still isn’t working, Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder is getting meaner by the minute and West Carleton Coun. Eli El-Chantiry is vying to seize her title. (Yes, I was shocked too!)

Here are some of the lowlights from this last week after about 19 hours of public consultation on the expansion of the urban boundary over two days, a city council meeting on Wednesday, followed on Thursday with yet another city committee.

For the record, while Harder thought they could get through the entire meeting in one day (with more than 100 delegates scheduled to speak) that was just never going to happen. In fact, the third day is happening today, with no guarantees they won’t need to take a fourth day sometime this week before the issue goes to city council at the end of May.

Here’s the real problem with roughly 24 hours of public consultation (by mid-Tuesday) on expanding the urban boundary. It’s sadly already a done deal, while there could no doubt be some minor changes to the gist of the staff recommendation, it’s going to happen.

The city will expand its boundaries.

And all the effort from the public didn’t change minds. Watson wants it to happen and what has now become his merry band of followers will vote as he wants. They’re too afraid not to. It’s sad, it’s wrong, but it’s going to happen.

What was equally as frustrating, if you listened in on the presentations and if you’re anything like me living in the suburbs, you would have heard very little about how it will effect your lifestyle. How will my public transit be effected? Will it it be stretched even further to accommodate for the next growth? It appears so.

REALLY, REALLY UGLY: When resident Sam Hersh addressed the committee, El-Chantiry asked him what he did for a living. Hersh replied he was unemployed, to which El-Chantiry then asked if he’d ever worked for a city councillor. Clearly, El-Chantiry knew he had. Hersh said he had, but didn’t understand the relevance.

Turns out that Hersh worked for a period of time for a couple of left-leaning city councillors. But when he questioned the relevance of the question, both El-Chantiry and Harder, (the chairs of the meeting) could be hear dissing his response and joined in with Beacon Hill-Cyrville Coun. Tim Tierney who actually guffawed at the member of the public.

El-Chantiry sunk even lower, calling Hersh “a joke.” Apparently, El-Chantiry later sent Hersh a private apology to a public dissing. And while we’re at it, while Harder felt just fine ridiculing Hersh, she got her back up when a city councillor asked former city hall staff John Smit who he was representing at the committee. Harder questioned the relevance, yes the same Harder who laughed in the face of Hersh. The list of delegates had Smit down representing GBA Consulting Group, a real estate development company. Sadly, Smit tarnished his previously stellar reputation saying he was there on his own. 

SEE NO EVIL: Asked how he felt about El-Chantiry’s outburst last week, Watson said he hadn’t heard it, but added it wasn’t his role to discipline a councillor. Right. Watson has no problem disciplining councillors he despises. Proof in point, he quickly jumped on College Coun. Rick Chiarelli – without any proof of the allegations against him.

F-BOMB: The brightest point of last Wednesday’s council meeting was when a city staffer uttered an F-bomb just when Watson called on him to answer a question from council. The well-liked staffer was suggesting the online system wasn’t working well, and he used the Bomb to describe it. And yes, clearly, I get that using the F-bomb really shouldn’t be the brightest point of a meeting.

And while that might have been the most fun of the mishaps last Wednesday, there was of course some hideous behaviour yet again. from Watson. Having worked long and hard at finding alternative housing for the homeless, Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney was literally shoved aside when Watson took her ideas and moved a motion with Kanata Coun. Jenna Sudds to use McKenney’s own ideas and her hard work to take the credit for the idea moving forward. That wasn’t the end of Watson’s dictatorship. And really, there’s no other word for it.

Instead of working with McKenney and Capital Coun. Shawn Menard, our egotistical mayor drew up his own motion on providing street parking in the downtown core, without so much as an acknowledgement to the work his downtown councillors had done.

REALLY STUPID: When Ottawa Health posted a video with some light-hearted ideas to keep safe doing the pandemic, the full-of-herself Harder tweeted: “Very stupid.” Now it was a bit unclear whether Harder thought Ottawa Health was stupid for the post or that perhaps she was dissing the residents who might need such information. Either way, she’s last week’s biggest loser.

AND DID I MENTION?: The city’s light rail system still doesn’t work.


  1. Why would you block me on Twitter? I was surprised to see that. Surely one comment on Twitter didn’t undo out friendship?

  2. One must wonder if our mayor and some councillors are taking their cues from the current occupant in the oval office!
    Rudeness and a dictatorial approach to city-wide issues are most unbecoming qualities of our elected.

  3. It is so upsetting to read what you had to write. It means that our City is not running properly. How awful I feel for those elected people who are not obeying the Mayor. They must wonder why this is happening to them. I hope their voices stay strong. Thank you Sue for having the courage to write your article.

  4. I don’t think Eli has any chance of taking the “Queen of Mean” title away from Ms. Harder. The first reason is that Eli still has a heart, as he showed during the floods and tornado. Secondly, at least Eli apologized to Mr. Hersh, Ms. Harder doesn’t have that kind of time for the unwashed masses.
    As you noted Ms. Harder only has the time to jump to the defense of the developer crowd like Mr. Smit. We all know who pays the freight for Ms. Harder, the developers . If you don’t believe me go to and see the facts.
    Ms.Harder is #1 when it come to taking money from developers at 96% and only 4% from the unwashed ignorant masses called tax payers.
    If Ms. Harder wants to keep her title of “Best friend to Developers” she better look behind her fast. Her planning committee buddy Mr. Hubley is right on her tail by taking 93% of his re election bankroll from developers .
    Sue, you should know by now that everything that goes to Planning Committee is already decided, everything. With the Harder Hubley team and coach Watson on the job you know which way the vote is going.
    Sue, wasn’t it Deep Throat that said to Woodward and Bernstein in the film All the President’s Men to “Follow the Money”? Not hard to follow the money around the planning committee table.
    By the way, the city’s light rail system doesn’t work.

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