Ottawa Needs A Better Mayor


People sometimes ask why your agent is so critical of Mayor Jim Watson.

Part of the reason is that he takes up so much of the political air in this community. Given how much political air is in this community, that’s quite an accomplishment.

Some of that is lazy thinking on the part of journalists. If a squirrel falls out of a tree, the young reporter’s first move is to get the mayor’s position. And we have a mayor who is only too willing to oblige.

So who other than the mayor gets this kind of exposure? Why the Citizen has repeatedly put three gratuitous grip-and-grin pictures of the mayor in the paper daily. The society and Upbeat pages are the preserves of the mayor. By the way, the grip-and-grin photo is the laziest form of journalism … if it can be called journalism. Some newspapers ban the grip-and-grin.

So The Bulldog is forced to respond to the mayor. Were more councillors to come forward, they would get more scrutiny in this publication.

Some people say I hate the mayor. I do not.

On a personal basis there are few more charming people. On an electoral campaign (which for him lasts four years), Watson might be the most effective politician in the city. His public relations persona is huge.

But so to is his thin skin, his lack of transparency, his horrible administrative skills, his vacuous policy and his iron rule of council. Think the cover-up of the sinkhole report and it smacks of Watson.

Still, the biggest Watson problem is he thinks what is best for him is best for the community. Those are two very different things.

He says previous administrations debated and dithered. Well had there been some considered debate on Phase 1 light rail, it might not be too short, way too expensive and with too many transfers.

We missed a chance to have a surface transportation corridor along the LRT line with cycling lanes and wide sidewalks and all that for $1.4-billion more than the first cancelled light-rail project.

Watson barged ahead with the plan of former mayor Larry O’Brien without understanding the cost. Furthermore he fails to understand budgeting. His slavish adherence to two-per-cent tax increases produced the largest operating deficit in Ottawa history. Accumulated debt is mind-wobbling. Wait until interest rates rise. Look out.

So your agent does not dislike Watson. He dislikes his gruesome lack of administrative acumen and his clawing way to get a headline.

Watson needs to be a better administrator and less a politician.

Watson needs to be a better mayor.



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3 thoughts on “Ottawa Needs A Better Mayor

  1. Ken,

    At no time should anyone have thought that you hated hislairdship. Only a petty man hates and your articles do not indicate that you are petty.

    Critical thinking does require one to look past a leader’s charisma and look at leadership qualities.

    You do watch for and point out all his Freudian Slips, his self-aggrandizing photo-ops, the non-statesman like comments (“Back to the drawing board” and “if you don’t like your job, then quit”), his errors with transparency, the pats on the back that he gives out – to himself. The list goes on and on for his lairdship but, he is not alone.

    I would again say that the Rescue Dog is an important role. Some pols can learn to recognize that they are coming across a little too entitled, a little too elite and are speaking with a little too much truthiness.

    Recognizing this trend they can try to pull it back. There was an interesting article on Bulldog Canadian about Mr. Trudeau recognizing that a few too many entitlement boo-boos have been made since he took the helm and he is now going to “blue-collar” it during a grand tour of Canada.

    Many normal working people once thought that the mannerisms of kings and queens were somewhat to be expected from our political leaders. We gave them an inch but they seem to have taken a mile.

    The Bulldog is covering the municipal scene quite well. Criticism is not a product of hate; it is a caring gesture.

    St. Bernard Chaz

  2. Ken, one could add the iron grip Watson has on his senior management, like him a conservative and risk-averse lot. This power structure is what keeps the city from being open to progressive ideas. Ottawa is increasingly becoming the laughing stock of Canadian municipalities.
    Could you please put in a good word with Paul Dewar?


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