Frequent Bulldog contributor Ron Benn looks at the strategy behind Mayor Jim Watson’s support of a truck tunnel under Ottawa:
It is my understanding that what Mayor Jim Watson convinced so many of his fellow elected municipal officials to do was to ask the federal and provincial governments to co-fund a $6-$7 million detailed study, with the municipal ante being about $2 million. What he has accomplished with this move is three things;
– appearing to take action (another study) on a serious issue;
– defer any real decisions until later (a problem deferred is a problem solved is a common ploy used by politicians);
– shifted the responsibility to say no to someone else (the federal and provincial governments).
This is just a variant a game of shifting responsibility for poor his decision-making on to others that he has played several times during the past six years.
The Bulldog’s readers will recall that the mayor decided that asking the province for two casinos would solve his dilemma of having declared multiple, conflicting positions on where the city would like a new casino. By asking for two casinos, he put the ball in Premier Kathleen Wynne’s court, so that her government would take the blame for turning down his “brilliant” solution. The fiscal cost to the taxpayers of Ottawa was not disclosed, but likely immaterial.
The failure to secure the land rights to the western end of the LRT trench was a multi-billion-dollar game of chicken with the National Capital Commission that cost at least $100 million in extra tunnelling costs, but for that magical, offsetting value engineering savings he found.
A few years ago, he managed to distract the residents of the city with a promise of a study on a downtown truck tunnel when he refused to endorse the Kettle Island bridge alternative, with the city picking up $250,000 of the costs. On Wednesday, he upped the ante by adding a “0” to our tab.
One does have to wonder what Minister Bob Chiarelli (senior Ottawa minister) and Minister Catherine McKenna (senior Ottawa minister) had to say when they heard that Watson has put them on the spot to get approval for squandering a couple more million dollars each, that neither of their governments have.
In baseball, you get three strikes before you are out. How many does he get before our provincial and federal governments call him out?
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