What U.S. President Donald Trump has perfected is the big lie.
You tell the big lie enough times and people begin to believe it.
In Ottawa’s example, Mayor Jim Watson has painted himself as good old Uncle Jim … the fiscal conservative who does everything for the city and nothing for him.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Below is Watson’s statement that he is running for another term as mayor that would bring him to 15 years in the post and another six years as city councillor.
He is the ultimate career politician — an administrative and fiscal flop but the consummate public relations man.
The Bulldog’s comments on Watson’s statement are in boldface:
I am writing today to let you know that I will be seeking re-election as Mayor of Ottawa in the 2018 municipal election.
I have often said that in politics, you either run on your record, or you run from it. I am very proud of my record and everything we’ve built together.
I am proud that I have been able to bring back strong fiscal discipline to City Hall, while maintaining the important municipal services that our residents, families and businesses count on.
Not true. Watson built up the biggest operating deficit in Ottawa municipal history and that was bailed out by staff cuts and raiding reserve funds. The last accurate tally of the city accumulated debt was $1.8 billion … again the largest in municipal history. He has also massively increased items such as water and sewer charges so he can keep to his 2.5-per-cent tax increase. In reality it is much higher.
I have set out a plan and a vision on how to make Ottawa a world-class city. I am happy to say that, by working together with my Council colleagues and the community, we have made significant progress moving the benchmark forward on innovation and smart growth across our city.
A world-class city has debates on council and urges criticism to create better policy. A world-class city is open, caring and inclusive. That is not the way of Watson.
I committed to keeping taxes at an affordable rate and I am proud to say that, with a lot of creative thinking and hard work, every year of my tenure as Mayor, we have met our tax cap and provided greater stability and predictability for our residents.
And after years of false starts, lawsuits and cancellations, we are now on the verge of witnessing the opening of our new Light Rail Transit (LRT) system, on time and on budget. LRT is not on time or on budget. Add-ons such as a Tunney’s Pasture bus loop and a missing fare system (yes, fare system) were added-on separately to keep the project “on time and on budget”. And let’s not forget a sinkhole or two. More importantly, just yesterday, we approved the plan for Stage 2 of our LRT system that will see us go farther East to Place d’Orléans and Trim Road; farther south to the Airport and Riverside South, and farther West to Algonquin College, Bayshore Shopping Centre, and now to Moodie Drive and the new DND complex – all faster than originally planned.
Former mayor Bob Chiarelli’s plan would have gone to Barrhaven, Kanata and Orleans for $2.8 billion and have been completed by 2014. Watson’s plan costs $6 billion and misses Barrhaven and Kanata. On the basis of this alone, Watson should be turfed from office. The extra $3.2 billion Watson is spending on LRT is roughly the amount of the whole city budget for one year.
Watson’s horrible, excessive light-rail overspending should be subject to a major audit and an inquiry. On the basis of light rail alone, Watson should not be re-elected.
And while LRT has been a key focus over the past term, we have also invested in projects that have been on the City’s priority list for a long time. I am proud we have moved from talk to action and are making these projects a reality.
This year, we will formally open our new Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards, as well as the new Ottawa Art Gallery and redeveloped Arts Court. This is in addition to the new recreational facilities we have already opened in Cumberland, Barrhaven and Kanata.
The Arts Court was built with the funds Watson was to use to put Double-A baseball in the city-owned Coventry Road stadium. Watson ceremoniously failed to bring a Blue Jays farm franchise to the city despite announcing he was off to Toronto to do it. Instead Ottawa now has an unaffiliated team in the lowest tier of professional baseball playing teams in some cities that no one has heard of. The team plays to less than 3,000 fans a game in a 10,000-seat stadium.
On the other initiatives, don’t forget Ottawa’s astronomical accumulated debt.
After 30 years of inaction, Lansdowne Park has been revitalized and has become a success with both residents and visitors.
The roof leaked at the Civic Centre before the redevelopment. It leaked afterward. City revenue from the project has been delayed. The process, or lack of it, that went into planning of Lansdowne was shameful. City staff flew in the face of council by cancelling an international design competition for the site.
The future will hold a number of major city building projects – ideas that need a leader with a track record of getting things done. Transformative projects like Zibi, LeBreton Flats, and the new Central Library. Over the next number of years, our city will see the development of the former Rockcliffe Air Base, which is one of the last remaining significant redevelopment sites in the urban part of the city, and will be the single largest development within the Greenbelt since amalgamation.
Watson and city staff are far, far, far too close to the development community. Zoning is not even a suggestion anymore.
Our environment continues to be an important part of our plan, as we implement the Ottawa River Action Plan; Energy Evolution catalyst projects; plant one million trees across our city and our Canada 150 Maple Groves, and continue to advance our renewable energy strategy and energy retrofits of our buildings.
This from a mayor who called land along the Macdonald Parkway “scrubland”. We will never plant a million trees in the city. Your agent asked for three of them and didn’t even get an answer from the city.
And we are firing on all cylinders with our tourism sector, as we continue to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday like nowhere else, as part of our successful Ottawa 2017 tourism initiative.
Secrecy keeps the $28 million and more to be spent on Ottawa 2017 under wraps. Around $6 million has been donated for the festival from your tax money.
Whether it’s adding new police officers and paramedics, working closely with our business community and post-secondary institutions, or upgrading our rural roads, I am proud of our track record of getting things done for the betterment of our city and its residents – all within a framework of fiscal responsibility.
Fiscal responsibility is a pipe dream in the Watson administration. In terms of law enforcement, Watson made a big public spectacle of disciplining the police about Ottawa gun problems but when the shootings continued, he disappeared. Watson has been either slow to respond or non-existent on the Abdi issue.
Serving as Mayor of our City has been a tremendous honour. I am grateful for this opportunity each and every day I walk into City Hall or I’m out and about in our community.
I often hear the old joke that “Watson would go to the opening of an envelope,” and I always take that as a compliment. You need to be out in our communities as much as you’re at City Hall. Being in the amazing neighbourhoods that make up our city always reaffirms my belief that we live in a very special place, made up of incredible people.
Watson runs his administration like a perpetual re-election campaign. By his own admission, he doesn’t like being in the office. Watson attends so many events that he cannot possibly do a good job of administration … and he doesn’t.
I get to see the kindness of a church sponsoring a Syrian refugee family in Kanata; or a young brother and sister in Orléans selling lemonade to raise money for CHEO, or the Nepean volunteer who drives patients to the Queensway Carleton Hospital for cancer treatments.
Why was Watson so slow to lead on the Abdi death?
I want to thank the many friends and residents who have contacted me over the past few weeks asking me to run again. I very much appreciate the kind words and encouragement.
A web audit revealed that Watson had 40,000 fake Twitter accounts following him. We wonder if those accounts are garnering many congratulations for Watson.
I want to take a moment to tell you about a recent handwritten letter I received from a resident who took the time to encourage me to continue this important work. She wrote in part:
‘’I would like you to continue. I am 87 years of age and would like to feel confident our city is in good hands. I’m sure there are many others who feel as I do. To tell you the truth and in plain English, I feel safe…You have had a lot of experience in politics and know the good with the bad. Either way, you conduct yourself with maturity and as a gentleman.’’
The seniors at the Unitarian institution in the old west end fought Watson on making their few last years miserable with light-rail tunnelling and construction.
This letter and every letter I receive from residents is a gift. These letters are an illustration of people’s commitment to the city we call home. I take their words to heart as I recognize that their trust in me must be earned every day through my actions and my hard work.
City hall has astonishingly closed during the Watson years. Watson tried to blacklist The Bulldog for no given reason and was stopped by a media outcry in the city and across the country including by his old friend Warren Kinsella.
A few weeks ago, when I was in Stittsville, I ran into a gentleman who stopped me and said, “I have something to tell you.”
Those kinds of words could easily go in two different directions.
But in this case, I got lucky. He said, “I didn’t vote for you last time, but I like that you get things done and you do more doing than yapping! I hope you run again.”
Give us a name.
With that, he shook my hand and I thanked him.
Later when I reflected on this encounter, I realized how proud I am of the progress we have made, and I am optimistic about what can be achieved in the future. I also feel that I have a good sense of the work that we must face as a growing, dynamic city. This work fills me with confidence and a strong desire to continue to build the solid partnerships it takes to get things done.
His administrative moves have been an abysmal failure.
Our city is in the midst of its most significant transformation in a generation, and with the support of the people of Ottawa, I hope to continue to play a small part in our beautiful city’s bright future.
This city would be a lot prettier if community design plans and zoning were upheld. Old neighbourhoods are damaged badly (look at Les Soeurs de la Visitation convent as an example) by excessive height and poor design in the core and urban sprawl continues in the suburbs. The development community has far too much influence at Ottawa City Hall.
By any standard, save public relations, the Watson administration has been a mess. He should not be re-elected.
People need to look past the big lie.
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