Two Market Dead … Where’s Watson?



Here we go again.

Mayor Jim Watson can find time for a cow-milking contest on Friday but when it comes time to address two deaths in the ByWard Market, out trots his press secretary.

There are two Jim Watsons. The first is the community involved mayor who spends outrageous amounts of time politicking bovine events to high-school robotics awards nights. The second is the administrative lightweight who is paying two- and three-times the amount for light rail with billions of dollars worth of waste and the man who turtles when bad news breaks out.

Watson in the last few months has been a bit better at responding to unfortunate occurrences in the community … but then there was the weekend.

“The ByWard Market continues to have increased police patrols during both the daytime and evening, and Mayor Watson appreciates the excellent work our police officers do on a daily basis,” the mayor’s spokesperson said.

How are those extra patrols working out, Your Worship? Two dead in the tourist mecca of the market. That should stimulate tourism for Ottawa 2017 … just what the hospitality industry was looking for.

But to Watson’s credit, at least he issued a statement on the incident. That’s an improvement over his response to the Waller Street LRT sinkhole which he ignored publicly. Had perhaps the mayor reacted very strongly to the Waller problems, the city might not have experienced the huge Rideau Street sinkhole months later. The Waller lesson didn’t appear to sink in. That happens when you have a disengaged top executive. But hey … those cows got milked. That’s acting pro-actively.

In January 2015, the mayor met with the police chief in a take-charge way to see what could be done about a spate of shootings. And then he went away.

Maybe Watson realized what informed members of the community already knew. That ending gun violence is not accomplished by extra police patrols but rather getting to the heart of the social problems that result in gun play. But that of course would take money and lots of time and when some success started to show, Watson wouldn’t have a ribbon to cut. No votes there.

So the mayor started to distance himself from the shootings. When he discovered there was no easy fix, suddenly all that gun play was a police problem. Mister Take-Charge became Mr. Stand-Pat.

This is a difficult period in Ottawa what with skyrocketing debt from LRT miscues and bullet flying around the market. People are getting killed and the mayor not only doesn’t have an answer, he doesn’t want to get near the problem. Bad optics, you know.

“An incident of this nature is tragic and my thoughts are with those who have been impacted by this morning’s events.” That should have been the mayor talking but it was instead Mathieu Fleury, the councillor for Rideau-Vanier. A young wet-behind-the-ears politician responds better to the crisis than the very veteran Watson.

These are serious times. Ottawa needs a serious mayor.

Photo above: Mayor Jim Watson addressing the critical Pittsburgh Penguins file.

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12 thoughts on “Two Market Dead … Where’s Watson?

  1. As manager of the building called ByWard Market Square, I would like to comment that Dalhousie and Murray is actually I believe called “Lowertown” and is a fair distance from the ByWard Market. The press continually refers to that area as the “ByWard Market” which it is not.
    This really puts a scare into tourists and residents for no reason.

    1. I understand not wanting to be near the bad press but I have to disagree with your geography.
      I’m just guessing here but I think Ken might be going by Google Maps which puts the market between Sussex, King Edward, Rideau, and Murray (or maybe St. Patrick) which, having lived near both Dalhousie/Murray, and Clarence/Cumberland, I would generally agree with.
      Besides, I wouldn’t call two blocks a ‘fair distance’. That’s making a wrong turn and ending up where you’re not expecting … Can’t tell you how many times I’ve done that in downtown Philly which is arguably a much more dangerous place than the market.

    2. Marilyn, while I appreciate you clarifying the geography, it is a distinction without a difference. When we wander through the area north of Rideau Street and east of Sussex Drive, we don’t pay much attention to where the ByWard Market ends and Lowertown starts. I suspect that the social misfits with short fuses and weapons in hand don’t care either.

    3. @Marilyn Waserman:

      As a community leader this all you can come up with? Not in my backyard.

      Would you rather the press release read: ByWard Market customers go to Lowertown to commit violent crimes. Our city is not as safe as city officials makes it out to be, every neighbourhood has it’s own challenges and Byward Market/Lowertown happens to be violent crime.

    4. Dear Ms. Waserman:

      Are you going to seriously argue that the intersection of Dalhousie and Murray is far removed from the ByWard Market? I just went onto Google Maps and calculated a few distances. That intersection is 450 metres on foot from the Mercury Lounge. It’s 290 metres from Tucker’s Marketplace. It’s 400 metres from the Bell Media building.

      I assume you got your super-slim hair-splitting blade from Ma Cuisine. But of course, at the corner of Dalhousie and Murray, it’s not in the ByWard Market, right?

    5. Ms Waserman,
      As someone who’s lived in, shopped in, socialized in, and etcetera’d in the Byward Market area over almost half a century, I can tell you with some certainty that your little building is not regarded by the majority of the population as being the owner of the designation “the Market” or “the Byward Market”. May I suggest that you have a look at the following link which shows a map of the area covered by the Byward Market BIA, a group that the businesses in your building are all members of? It shows the “Byward Market” covering Rideau to King Edward to St Patrick to MacKenzie which definitely includes the corner of Dalhousie and Murray.,+Ottawa,+ON,+Canada/@45.428937,-75.691209,15z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x4cce050261d6c9c7:0xc02283c07a3b83a2!8m2!3d45.4288655!4d-75.6911592?hl=en-US
      While I personally wouldn’t include the section east of Dalhousie, I would bow to the decision of the BIA which had to be approved by City Council. By your reference to scaring tourists and residents, are you suggesting that there’s never been any activity in the area you define as “the Market” that would cause anyone concern?

  2. First it goes without saying, the police cannot prevent all crimes.

    The world contains people who do violence. There are social issues that must be addressed. Do not cower, be brave, you are more likely to fall in the bathroom than be a victim of violence. Mourn for the dead and their families. Feel for the police who are put into bad situations and hope that their actions are always appropriate.

    Second: Ken – you recognized that there has been areas of change in Mr. Watson’s actions. You gave credit by saying , “…has been a bit better…” and “…to Watson’s credit…” and “…that’s an improvement…”. Keep pointing out what you think he is doing wrong ( it isn’t a short list ) but do continue to pat him on the back when he deserves it. Maybe you can help to stop the additions to the “Ottawa screw-up page” and start a “We’re getting better list”; maybe?

    We will always poke fun at politicians because there will always be things to poke at. We will always shake our heads in disbelief when something happens that shouldn’t have. We will praise the police when they do it right and come down with a hammer when they mess up. But, never give up and Ottawans won’t either.

    1. Chaz:

      The screw-up page remains. It is a good summary of the things that have gone wrong at city hall.

      It’s a good reference for the public and, for that matter, me.



      1. Ken,
        I wasn’t suggesting that the screw-up page be dropped; those screw-ups are part of what has already happened.
        I said that maybe there will be fewer additions IF fewer screw-ups occur.

        Maybe, if city hall takes notice of the reviews of their actions by reading about them ( in the Bulldog and other places) and then takes some criticism to heart; then those at city hall can learn to do better. Fewer screw-ups can come with improvements, improvements can come from listening to city hall reviewers. You mentioned a few areas of improvement, maybe it will get better and better. The ball is always in the governments court and it is up to them to listen and improve.

        ie: if they start to do better by listening and reading critiques then the additions to the screw-up page will decrease. The additions won’t decrease because you don’t add them but decrease because they don’t occur. Something to hope for? But, maybe too much to expect?

    2. ‘Has been a bit better’, ‘to Watson’s credit’, ‘continue to pat him on the back — makes me think we are training a toddler. Should a Mayor not know what is expected before elected and/or get a good assistant for guidance.
      Watson is a glory/PR Mayor and lay responsibility for street violence with the Chief of OPS many years ago when there were many shootings over the Christmas Season.
      I do wonder how the Mayor’s actions wandered off into a geography debate?

  3. Having caught up on local news, Watson is busy, busy commenting on ‘possible terror’ for Canada Day, so no time for local violent deaths.


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