Answer The Question: Whopper Watch



“I know you’re looking for us to give you all kinds of dates and so forth. The fact of the matter is this — the train will go into revenue service when the train is ready to go into revenue service.”

Transit chief John Manconi

Your agent has been involved in journalism in one way or another for about four decades. He has been covering municipal affairs in some form since 1998.

But never in that time has your agent run across an institution that is more tight-lipped, more uncooperative with the media, more willing to obfuscate or cover up, more obstructionist and more aloof from the public and reporters than the City of Ottawa.

Don’t believe me? Check this out.

Former mayor Bob Chiarelli, the last competent mayor of Ottawa, would fight to get information into the open. Mayor Jim Watson does exactly the opposite … to the point of blacklisting The Bulldog because he is so thin-skinned about criticism. Watson should be the champion of open government, not its worst enemy. The only reason your agent got from city communications about the blacklisting was “because it’s just a f—— blog.” Nice.

So the CBC’s Joanne Chianello is right to take out Manconi and transit commission chairman Stephen Blais about their haziness on the completion Phase 1 of the light-rail project. Blais keeps just saying that the project is on-target for completion in 2018. In fact as Chianello indicates, the city set a target of May 2018. The city set the bar for accuracy but now chooses to obfuscate because it suits its purposes. Because it has a big problem with LRT.

No more.

Blais and Manconi are paid and responsible to the public and the media asks them questions that they reasonably believe the public would ask. In treating the media like dust, the city is treating the public like dust. Show contempt for the media, you’re showing contempt for the public. In fact that’s not new. Chianello is a responsible and reasonable person. Show respect to her by answering as fully and cooperatively as possible. That is a public servants’ duty.

The media and the public have reasonable doubts about the light-rail project given its outrageous cost and three sinkholes during construction.

Watson should man up and not just tell his minions to give the best information possible but do the same rather than just saying that he is open, caring and inclusive.

He’s not and the City of Ottawa is not.

Answer the question.

And the principals to this stupidity should be damn glad I’m not down there asking questions. In my seven years at city hall, I had a reputation of collecting a large number of pelts of those who did wrong or covered up.

I can think of a few pelts I’d like to get right now.



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7 thoughts on “Answer The Question: Whopper Watch

  1. Just a f****ing blog from people who live and breath Twitter and a mayor who has questionable numbers of followers? OC Transpo and city hall do not much care for the public and ridership. It is all about their personal image.

  2. This is ridiculous.

    City hall should be openly providing any information they have unless there’s a valid reason for withholding it.

    The current crew thinks the idea is to hide everything unless you must disclose it.

    Perhaps we should start paying our taxes on the same basis which would result in their paycheques being paid when they are paid. That sounds like a reasonable extension of Manconi’s statement.

    Aside from anything else, don’t they realize that, if they were upfront with us all along, when there’s a problem with delivering the service, we are likely to receive it better than if they a) act like they have something to hide and b) act like it’s really not our business when they are going to grace us with a train system. It’s that flies/honey/vinegar thing.

    Here’s an idea – they could treat us as if we were their partners in this venture. Considering that it’s our money they’re spending to create this thing and it’s us who’s being inconvenienced by the upheaval of the system and the construction, it would seem they could at least include us.

    If they behave professionally, they’re more likely to get the same back. Do they not realize that Joanne Chianello is interviewing them on our behalf and will then report the information to us? Would they rather have each of us contact them individually to ask our questions or deal with Joanne as our agent? Would we get a better reception than the rude response she was given?

    Sorry to bother you, Mr. Manconi, but we are entitled to know what’s going on.

    1. Voter:

      Right, right, right.

      Wonder if they’d be more interested in answering questions if the public considered a tax strike?



      1. That’s tempting! It’s too late for this year but maybe something to think about for 2018. I seem to recall there’s something happening in that year – oh yes, it’s election time.

  3. Ken:

    You said a mouthful.

    Indeed, it is the reporter’s job to ask reasonable questions on the behalf of the citizens.
    It is the job of the government agent to answer the question as if talking to an individual voter.

    A fuller and much more respectful answer than the line by Mr. Manconi must become the norm.

    What he said, rather curtly, was that it looks like we are behind schedule and I honestly can’t provide a definite date at this time.

    Treat the reporter with disrespect and one is treating the public with disrespect.

  4. In fairness, Mr. Manconi provided an answer to the actual question posed, notably that he doesn’t know when the LRT will be commissioned and in service.

    This is in contrast to what we get from most of the elected officials that decorate Laurier Avenue, which is a bunch of words that do not respond to the actual question posed. That is a greater insult to the intelligence of the residents of the city, but one that few in the media point out. Today’s average (now isn’t that a wonderful adjective – after all, who doesn’t strive to be average?) reporter seems pleased that they got any response at all, either not caring that the response did not address the question or incapable of understanding that the answer given was not to the question posed.

    That Mr. Manconi’s tone was one of petulance, with a touch of arrogance was not in keeping with his position, but when donkeys fly, shouldn’t one refrain from marking them on style? After all, according to one councillor, small wins matter.

  5. Just a ‘f—ing’ blog — words to be proud of and they sure make me laugh.
    Having recycled too quickly, did a search for the Jersey Boy story a few weeks ago. All the first hits were Bulldog sites.
    Time to stop the tweets and check out what is showing up online.


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