The City Of Ottawa’s Pravda



Pravda means the truth.

It was also the name of the Soviet Union state-run newspaper.

That organ’s editorial line was that the Soviet Union and the Communist Party did no wrong.

The City of Ottawa has its own version of Pravda … it’s called its communications department.

It has started publishing summaries of council and standing committee meetings. In these, the city can do no wrong.

Here is part of a release from the city dated July 4.

The Finance and Economic Development Committee today received an annual report on the Lansdowne Partnership Plan, which shows a rising number of visitors to Lansdowne – 3.4 million people in 2016, a 41 per-cent increase over 2015. Over 200,000 visitors are expected when the 105th Grey Cup Festival kicks off in November, generating an anticipated $100 million in economic activity.

Yes of course, the Grey Cup Festival will generate $100 million in economic activity. Wonder how much economic activity is being created by Ottawa 2017 and what its wildly inaccurate figures on economic benefits are now?

And apparently 3.4 million people went to Lansdowne in 2016, an increase of 41 per cent compared to 2015. Now wait a second. Are there turnstiles to get into the Lansdowne shopping centre? Don’t think so. Yet another inaccurate estimate that defies accurate counting and proof. Does something become true because the city says so? Apparently … yes.

The city can’t tally an accurate crowd estimate at a caged event such as Red Bull Crashed Ice let alone count the number of people who walked across the Lansdowne shopping centre. Did the city count the three drunk guys who staggered through Lansdowne at two in the morning on their way home? Apparently … and surprisingly … yes. They must be part of 3.4 million the city counted at Lansdowne. Amazing. The city sees all.

Of course city communications neglected to mention that losses at Lansdowne (in which the city has a considerable financial stake) increased from $14.4 million which is a significantly more than the $12.6 million loss last year. That was the focus of real media stories on this event. The city focuses on increased, immeasurable attendance. The municipality’s communications department and its political masters (that means you Mayor Jim Watson) would call hell tepid.

The city communications department can’t burp without mentioning Watson’s name in a release or a relevant councillor or two. That’s free advertising for pols. If politicians want publicity, they should pay for it themselves not charge taxpayers. Furthermore constantly mentioning politicians’ names in releases reinforces the influence of incumbency  … a major problem in a democracy. But incumbents want it their way. Never give a potential opponent an even break.

And didn’t Watson and the media folks blacklist The Bulldog? How did that happen? Must have been a misunderstanding.

If the city communications department wants to provide summaries of goings-on at city hall, they should write what really happened, not propaganda. Tell the truth.

Taxpayers are already paying millions too much for fertilizer at Orgaworld. Why should they pay millions more for the same kind of compost from city communications?


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12 thoughts on “The City Of Ottawa’s Pravda

  1. How many “visitors” attended Landsdowne before it was actually open, and how many the first year of functionality. A MASSIVE increase a percentage even city hall bean counters can not fathom. How is that waterfall doing? Money returned to the city coffers yet? Tell me it is so oh purveyors of bent truth from city hall.

  2. It would be helpful in the interpretation of these numbers if we knew what they are counting.
    One important potential distortion is if they count the people who live in the condos as a ‘visit’ each time they return home. If I drop in for coffee with a condo resident, am I counted as a Lansdowne ‘visitor’? If Grandma and Grandpa host the kids and grandkids for Sunday dinner a couple of times a month plus Christmas and birthdays, that could boost the numbers considerably.
    If I pick up tickets for a 67’s game, go grab dinner and then return to the arena for the game, is that 3 ‘visits’ even though I didn’t leave the grounds? If I have my newborn with me when I go to Whole Foods, is that one or two ‘visitors? If I use the parking while I spend time with someone in the Glebe Centre, is that a Lansdowne ‘visit’?
    Is it people who’ve bought tickets for event plus those who’ve made a purchase in a store? How are they accounting for the people bringing their kids to the playground or playing frisbee on the lawn? If the frisbee goes over the fence and I go after it and then return, is that a second visit?
    How do these numbers compare to similar figures from the pre-OSEG days? How many people visited the Ex in the ten days it was open each year?
    They need to do comparisons with legitimate timeframes, not a point when things were still under construction and all the commercial space wasn’t filled. If they want to compare with 2015, they need to provide figures on what percentage of the whole facility was up and running including how much of the commercial space was filled and operational. If I rented a store in February 2015 but didn’t open the doors until October, you can’t compare that year with 2016 when I was operating for 12 months.
    Sounds to me like lies, damn lies and statistics are loose in the land.

  3. Besides Pravda, the Soviets had the news agency Isvestia, which means news. The joke back then was that there was no news in the Truth and no truth in the News.

  4. The other main newspaper in Soviet Russia was Isvestia, which means “the news”. As they used to say in Russia, there was no pravda in Isvestia and no isvestia in Pravda.

    1. Andrew and Merrill:

      Was I the only person who didn’t know this?

      Thanks for your comments, duplicate though they are.

      Both came in at roughly the same time.



    2. I must concede that Andrew has it right. I thought Isvestia was a news agency. I think I confused it with Tass. According to Wikipedia, Isvestia was the government paper and Pravda was the party paper.

  5. Instead of writing flattering or distorting news releases, the City’s resources would be better spent restoring the production of synopsis Minutes of Committee and Council meetings. It was one of the few things that they did well but they abandoned the practice in 2011.

    Instead you’re supposed to rely on the audio or video record, which is accessible only if you use the old Internet Explorer browser. Even so, checking the record that way is a pain — it is not searchable and half the time you don’t know who’s talking. It is an ongoing scandal and prime example of fake transparency under the Watson regime.

  6. Maybe Lansdowne will bring lots of visitors and lots of dollars. But it is time to count the costs. One small one is the increase of bylaw officers as cars clog streets and park in no parking zones. In our case we have to call bylaw because some fans at one of the events blocked almost half of our driveway. Driver got a ticket. Bylaw officer received salary. A cost to many all around but not figured in Pravda.


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