Well here’s an amazing coincidence. A couple of days ago I received a tip suggesting Mayor Jim Watson had directed two of his councillors to bad mouth Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury. The two councillors named were Gloucester-South Nepean Coun. Michael Qaqish and Innes Coun. Jody MItic.
Fleury’s alleged sins? He had the audacity to call out some city councillors for refusing to meet with him on the Salvation Army file, a file that has thrown his residents into absolute turmoil. Of course, Fleury refused to go on the record about which councillors refused to meet with him. Fair enough. But worse than calling out his colleagues, from the mayor’s perspective, Fleury highlighted the role the mayor played in the debate. Early on in the discussion, Watson went public in favour of the project which then appeared to muzzle city councillors who might be fearful of going against the mayor. But there’s no doubt, if you follow council closely, that when Watson speaks, many of his minions on council quickly follow suit. Hence Fleury being unable to get his council colleagues to meet with him.
Here’s what Qaqish tweeted on Thursday about Fleury:
“Mishandles file like he did with Chateau & others, throws colleagues under bus & fails to take any ownership or responsibility.”
Really? Is there any evidence that Fleury was wrong? Nothing I’ve seen. And who was the first and only councillor to retweet Qaqish? None other than Mitic! Yes, that is a crazy coincidence. In case you’ve missed the sarcasm, there’s no doubt in my mind this is not at all a coincidence. For the record, Mitic – who has accused me of never talking to him directly about city issues – didn’t return my request for an interview.
And Qaqish, since I ran against him, appears to run scared every time I approach him. He too didn’t turn my request for an interview. Watson did return my email, suggesting my source was lying because he’d never seen the tweet. Ludicrous. No one is suggesting he wrote the email, only that he made sure it happened.
This is my favourite tweet response to Qaqish:
@ACVanierCA Nov 23 “Did you vote in favour of the SA relocation to get back at a colleague of yours, therefore taking our whole community hostage? @Quartier_Vanier @SOSVanier”
Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans did talk to On the City, From the Burbs, saying she was really sad to see councillors tweeting out against each other. “I think it is out of the ordinary, I think it’s regrettable. As a council, we need to get along. This was a very divisive file and it’s divided the community and it’s divided council, and it doesn’t have to be that way,” she told this blog on Saturday.
And Deans, taking the high road, wouldn’t blame either Watson or Fleury. “I’m not going to assign any blame, I do think we need to be finding better ways to work together,” she said.
Here’s the thing. While city councillors try to one up each other, the community of Vanier, which cares deeply about its neighbourhood, is reeling from the implications of a mega homeless shelter on a main street like Montreal Road. And if we’re to believe the rumours – and it’s really hard not to – Watson and his cronies are fighting a political battle instead of working for the betterment of the community.