JOIN THE CLUB

When it comes to Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, little is left to chance. Most every move is calculated.

So you have to wonder why Watson has been seen twice in recent days in Osgoode ward with the councillor for the area George Darouze.

The second visit was right around the time Darouze was served with court documents alleging he’d defamed two of his residents – Kristen and Reinhard Lechleitner.  The couple are seeking financial damages. Could Watson be trying to shore up the reputation of the beleaguered rural councillor by demonstrating his support? Just asking.

I would of course normally ask the two men in question (because that’s what reporters do) about the visits, but Darouze didn’t return my requests for an interview and Watson never speaks to me anymore – unless at a city hall scrum.

But I think it’s fair to say this is but one example of how Watson has built up his “Watson Club” – because one good turn always deserves another. And another. Darouze has been a loyal member of the club, and given the recent turn of events, suspect he’ll be an even bigger supporter of the mayor – if that’s at all possible.

Back in the fall of last year, Darouze was found guilty of contravening the councillor code of conduct by the city’s integrity commissioner – earning himself the dishonour of becoming the city’s first-ever politician to be found guilty of contravening the councillor code of conduct by the integrity commissioner since that office was created in 2012. Hey, everyone has to be good at something!

Here’s what an Marleau’s investigator determined:

“I find that (Darouze’s) reaction to the Facebook posts of the female complainant was unjustified and excessive. I find that in sending his September 21, 2018 email to the Chief of Police and identifying both complainants and revealing that the male complainant was an OPS officer he did so for the primary reason of silencing the female complainant and causing the male complainant grief in his workplace. The councillor’s exaggerated claims of fear and harm, his contradictory explanation and his aggressive response to legitimate public debate on the question of police deployment in rural Ottawa weakens his credibility in this case. Considering all of the circumstances and the councillor’s own evidence, this office finds that his explanation is not credible. On a balance of probabilities, I find that the major motivation of the councillor was to bully and intimidate the complainants and each of them in the hope that female complainant might cease her critical Facebook commentary of him,” the investigator wrote.

Really, simply shameful.

This all began when Kristen, the wife of an Ottawa Police officer went on Facebook and criticized some of what Darouze said at a 2018 all-candidates debate, like his efforts to improve local policing. Darouze didn’t take that well, suggesting she was “spreading fears” and “incorrect information.” Not only did Darouze criticize her on Facebook, but he then took the extraordinary action of writing to then Ottawa Chief Charles Bordeleau and actually asked the chief to get involved.

And let’s remember, nothing happens on the floor of city council that Watson doesn’t approve of. So it should be no surprise to anyone that while Marleau’s report went to council, there was no debate, no moral outrage, nothing. Absolutely no real public reprimand.

Seriously folks, you have to pay attention to what’s going on with your tax dollars.

City council accepted and approved the report from the city’s integrity commissioner, which found Darouze violated a section of council’s Code of Conduct, but did not actually ever publicly reprimand the councillor.

Watson said later council’s accepted the report was the reprimand. That’s a bit of a stretch.

Let’s compare that reaction from Watson calling for College Coun. Rick Chiarelli’s resignation following several of his former staffers alleging sexual impropriety.

Watson despises Chiarelli, who has the ability to get under his skin and irritate the hell out of the mayor. And Chiarelli has the same lack of respect for Watson. But while incredibly serious, the allegations against Chiarelli are not proven, and Darouze was found to actually have attempted to bully a woman.

And when Beacon Hill-Cyrville Coun. Tim Tierney was forced to apologize in court for making a “mistake” when he offered to make a charitable donation in exchange for his sole opponent dropping out of last fall’s municipal campaign – crickets from the mayor.

Corruption charges against Tierney were withdrawn, but Tierney had to forfeit two months salary.

The difference? Tierney and Darouze are part of the club, Chiarelli, not so much!

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