Ottawa had a curious budget last December.
A rump of councillors tried to increase taxes a wee bit to raise $10 million for infrastructure repairs.
But Our Mayor Jim Watson can’t have these things happen because he promised voters two-per-cent increases. Oh sure, seven-per-cent hikes for water and it goes on and on but those are outside the budget envelope.
Just as the rump was about to spring the tax-increase trap, Our Mayor found a $10-million surplus from property-assessment revenue and, voila, problem solved to Watson’s favour. As College Councillor Rick Chiarelli put it: “The Christmas Miracle.”
Except the mayor only told a few (supporting) councillors about it, there was almost no debate about the Miracle and this never crossed the lips of city bureaucrats and pols during public consultations.
So basically, Our Mayor’s action flew in the face of participatory democracy and proper debate at council (and committee, for that matter). Nice.
However Somerset Councillor Catherine McKenney decided to challenge the mayor’s actions through the city’s integrity commissioner.
But Robert Marleau said he had no jurisdiction over budget reviews.
Despite this, the integrity commissioner passed opinions on the process and comments from Kanata South Councillor Allan Hubley on the budget.
So if Marleau doesn’t have jurisdiction, exactly why is he expressing these opinions? He’s telling the public he can’t do anything, but if he could, he would say nothing was wrong. Hmm.
Perhaps Marleau could have left it at he had no jurisdiction.
So translated from his comments he said nothing wrong had occurred but I don’t have the power to do anything over nothing wrong.
Rather sounds like politics rather than an integrity commissioner.
And something was wrong, badly wrong. Democracy and free speech were trampled by Watson’s actions in relation to the Christmas Miracle.
And if Marleau doesn’t have jurisdiction (but opinions nevertheless), who does and what can be done about this miscarriage of responsible government?