Watson Has Bilingual Problems


One of Mayor Jim Watson’s greatest strengths is his facility with the French language.

Often that means his political opponents on the hustings are at a pronounced disadvantage.

Watson’s advantage might now be lost. The mayor has repeatedly refused to make Ottawa officially bilingual … no doubt expecting a backlash from the English community.

Well French-speaking Ottawans are angry. Last week Watson was greeted with a great amount of heckling as he spoke at the anniversary of S.O.S. Montfort. He couldn’t get the heckling stopped until he introduced some of the principals of the protest 20 years ago.

Meanwhile Watson has lost rural support because of his stand on a water drainage tax. The multicultural community is concerned about his slow Abdi issue response. Now despite being bilingual, the mayor might have lost the French community.

Perhaps a French single-issue candidate will run against the mayor in 2018, further hurting Watson’s chances of re-election.



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10 thoughts on “Watson Has Bilingual Problems

  1. I don’t think we need a single issue candidate. The job of mayor requires an ability to be involved in multiple issues simultaneously.
    Perhaps a rural francophone? I don’t think the City’s ethnic communities are particularly keen on the mayor after his responses to the Abdi killing and subsequent events.
    There are plenty of people who are well-rounded and connected to the community who speak French and understand rural issues and the concerns of francophones and other minority communities. We just need to encourage someone to come forward – he or she is out there somewhere.

    1. The Voter:

      How about you? You know your stuff.

      Or how about going out there to find a good candidate? They’re out there.



      1. Working on it, my friend! It’s not possible for me for personal reasons but I am trying to motivate a few people to come forward.

  2. Ken,
    It isn’t so much a matter of finding a single-issue candidate. The Voter called for a well-rounded person. That person is someone that can, because it’s ingrained in that person’s character, incorporate empathy, knowledge, and understanding to multiple areas. A leader, by nature, must respect the feelings and opinions of all stake-holders. A leader shouldn’t openly offend one side while propping up another.

    His lairdship doesn’t seem to be capable of stating his opinion and keeping his foot out of his mouth all at the same time.

    As more evidence, I’d add to your examples:
    – holding a meeting with the police chief and a police employee rep and then sticking his foot in his mouth by issuing an opinion that any police that don’t like the job can just quit

    – praising a police officer for driving a woman home but then firmly planting the old foot in the oral orifice by talking about the bus running late

    So has his lairdship explained why he doesn’t support official bilingualism in the Capital City of an officially bilingual country? If the cost of implementation is a factor then perhaps he could pay for it by eliminating tea,cakes,gates and sod.

  3. Unfortunately, unless someone with a great political pedigree steps up (I’m looking at you Mr. Dewar), I don’t see Mayor Watson as anything other than a shoe in for another term. Sure, he might have alienated a segment or two of the populace, but overall I don’t think he’s lost the shine that an active Twitter account, and a mostly subservient media, can get you. The incumbent bump is a hard one to beat.

    1. History would indicate incumbency is no guarantee in this job. See: Peter Clark, Bob Chiarelli, Larry O’Brien. That would be three out of three of his immediate predecessors so it can be done.

  4. As immigration continues it becomes less and less likely that this city will go bilingual. The English/French issue becomes just one language issue as we see more and more languages being used in everyday commerce in Ottawa. My guess is that a move by any one candidate to push for official bilingualism is likely to lose the ethnic vote.

    1. Robert,

      You gave a reason why going bilingual may not be the way to proceed. Your reason recognizes all stake-holders. Your reason did not place your foot in your mouth. Your reason did not single-out one group versus another. Your reason leaves the question open for honest, open debate. I feel his lairdship could learn some of these qualities of leadership.

      Would you be interested in tutoring politicians?

    2. English is not always the second language of immigrants to Ottawa. Many African countries and some Caribbean ones use French as their second language. These are areas that were part of the colonial empire of France. We have a large immigrant community for which English may be the third, fourth or fifth language and they are sending their children to French schools.


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