Ottawa 2017: Undocumented Crowd Estimates, Undocumented Money



Your agent was chuckling to himself about how big the mayor’s office or Ottawa 2017 would estimate the crowd for the weekend’s La Machine show.

I’m thinking a million. Outlandish but a million … just for fun. But Ottawa 2017 went modest … a mere 750,000 … three-quarters of a million.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think a million but I wouldn’t put it past Mayor Jim Watson or Ottawa 2017 to say it was. Of course one is baffled at how they arrived at 750,000. The biggest crowd estimate for Canada Day that your agent could remember was 500,000.

The technology of guessing at crowd sizes must have improved since the Red Bull Crashed Ice extravaganza when a press release was issued saying that unnamed crowd sizes for the show were much higher than some media were estimating. Then the release said it didn’t know how big the crowds were.

Of course Watson, who was spotted at the show campaigning like it was 2018, or Ottawa 2017 don’t know how many people were at the La Machine show. There were no tickets sold so anything officials say is a guess. They know that and you know that. But still they put three-quarters of a million attendees. The estimate would be big even were it small … for political purposes.

Like at Red Bull Crashed Ice, officials don’t know how big the crowd was.

However what we do know is that Watson is back giving himself higher billing in the La Machine release than main sponsor CIBC.

Here’s the important part of Sunday’s release:

A record crowd of over 750,000 people took in La Machine, making it the biggest theatrical production ever in Ottawa. The Ottawa 2017 Bureau and Mayor Jim Watson, in collaboration with lead sponsor CIBC, would like to thank residents, visitors, volunteers, first responders and partners for their enthusiastic participation in helping Long Ma, the dragon-horse, find her lost wings and temple.

For four days, the large-scale creature roamed the streets of the nation’s capital pursuing Kumo, the giant spider, who had stolen her precious and magical belongings.

Culminating with an epic battle at LeBreton Flats, the show, entitled The Spirit of the Dragon-Horse, With Stolen Wings, was created by François Delarozière, the Artistic Director of La Machine, a French theatre production company.

Why do crowd sizes matter? Because a CTV poll recently has made the mayor’s office sensitive to attendance. That poll said Ottawans were disappointed with Ottawa 2017.

The release was entitled, “Thank you, Canada, for helping a dragon-horse find her wings.” Note the use of the word “Canada”. Accommodation officials have been complaining about the large amount of space they have available in their hotels despite the $28 million ($6 million from Ottawa taxpayers) being spent on Ottawa 2017. Planned city camping sites had to be cut back due to lack of interest. “Thank you, Canada” means the visitors came from across Canada. No evidence of that. Most likely the so-called visitors came from the national capital region.

So what does this release say? Apparently 750,000 visitors except there’s no way of getting an accurate figure and they came from across Canada though there’s no evidence of that.

Ottawa 2017 has a budget of $28 million most of which is undocumented because Ottawa 2017 won’t reveal how much private donations were.

So we have an undocumented attendance figure and undocumented donations for this celebration.

But we do know that Watson got top billing in the release without donating a penny of personal funds. Nice to have $28 million to publicize one’s self.

Something is smelly here.


Photo above: Mayor Jim Watson worked the crowd like it was election 2018.

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11 thoughts on “Ottawa 2017: Undocumented Crowd Estimates, Undocumented Money

  1. Watson’s Twitter follower numbers are more than suspect so why would his estimates be any more accurate? Tell big enough fib and perhaps some will believe it.

  2. One thing that can be documented: the size of Guy Laflamme’s ego. Just heard a clip on CBC Radio in which he said (paraphrasing): “to all those people out there who laughed at me when I said I was bringing in La Machine — I was right.”

    I saw the show Saturday night. And it was fun.

    But truly, there are few contenders in public life for healthiest self-image to compete with Laflamme.

    1. Bob:

      I interviewed Mr. Laflamme once and he was very helpful.

      But I’ve been hearing that he’s a bit big for his britches.

      Wasn’t with me but perhaps in other times …



  3. Mr. Trump knows how to measure crowd size. Perhaps the mayor could send POTUS a picture of the event and ask for a Presidential proclamation to verify the numbers; might come in at the one-million mark yet.

  4. I hope that the people in the Elections Office are keeping an eye on the blurry line between mayoring and campaigning. It would be one thing if the PR material said that Ottawa 2017 was brought to you by the City of Ottawa or Ottawa City Council. Crediting the mayor with virtually every event is ridiculous.
    Aren’t there two councillors charged by Council as their reps on the Ottawa 2017 organization? Where’s their credit?

    1. I understand your sentiment about the councillors not getting any PR, but frankly I’m sick of seeing the mayor and council crediting themselves in press releases for things they had almost nothing with which to do.



  5. Out of curiosity, googled the population of Ottawa — they round it up to 985,000. Seems attendance was extremely high?
    Mr. Laflamme — appears to have a very healthy ego but his comments leave a bad taste. Sadly, those comments will always be connected to the event.

  6. IMO, this event “La Machine” event (and the Asian Festival on Somerset) should NOT have been permitted. Anything that blocks streets – whether it’s protests, parades, or events like this – should be prohibited.

    The roads belong to the cars, not for people – no exception.

    By allowing streets blocked, the City is denying my right to get from Point A to Point B in a timely manner and causing needless congestion.

    If they want events, it belongs to Toronto and Montreal, not here in Ottawa. Ottawa in my opinion should be a nice, peaceful, quiet city.

    1. I suggest you move to a “nice, peaceful, quiet city” where cars rule the world with all speed, sir. And if you ever get your agenda approved, I’ll be the one moving. Where’s the eye-rolling emoji on this thing, Bulldog?


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